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March Star Species: The Gruffalo

From Cornwall to Yorkshire, reports are coming in of Gruffalo sightings in the deep dark woods. It's time, we think, to put the Gruffalo under the spotlight as our Star Species for March.

There have been numerous sightings of the elusive Gruffalo in forests around England this month. It may have something to do with Forestry Commission England's new augmented reality app, or perhaps it is just because spring is in the air. Whatever the reason, here is all you need to know about this mysterious creature.

We have taken our Gruffalo facts from "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Alex Scheffler. It is the essential guide for Gruffalo Spotters.

What does the Gruffalo look like?

The Gruffalo has a distinctive appearance and it is unlikely that you will confuse him with any of the other creatures in the woodland. Here are some of his most notable features:

• "He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, 

• And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws."

• "He has knobbly knees, and turned-out toes, 

• And a poisonous wart at the end of his nose."

• "His eyes are orange, his tongue is black; 

• He has purple prickles all over his back"*

What does the Gruffalo eat?

Most of the time the Gruffalo is very hungry because his prey can outsmart him, but his favourite foods are:

• Roasted fox

• Owl ice cream

• Scrambled snake

• Mouse sandwich

Where can you spot the Gruffalo?

Download the Forestry Commission Gruffalo Spotter app from the App Store or Google Play Store, then visit one of 26 Gruffalo trails in Forestry Commission England woods and forests to begin your search.

We are quite excited because some of the woods and forests where the Gruffalo has been spotted, or is expected to make an appearance, are close to our locations:

• Dalby Forest, near Cropton and Keldy

• Sherwood Pines, near Sherwood Forest

• Thetford Forest, near Thorpe Forest

• Beechenhurst Forest, near Forest of Dean

• Bolderwood in the New Forest, near Blackwood Forest

• Cardinham Woods, near Deerpark

Forestry Commission England has the lowdown on the best times to visit.

Our top tips for Gruffalo spotters

Download the Gruffalo Spotter app, charge up your phone, and make sure you've got enough space for photos of you and the characters. Mobile reception can be touch-and-go in the forest, so it's also best to download the app before you leave home.

Make sure to pick up an Activity Kit at the visitor centre before you venture into the deep dark wood. The kit is packed with activities and guidance, as well as a handy Gruffalo Spotters magnifying glass and pencil for spotting and collecting evidence.

As you explore the trail, follow clues left by the characters in the Gruffalo story - the mouse, the fox, the owl, and the snake. The clues lead you to special footprint markers - point the app at the marker and watch as each character appears before your eyes. 

Only the bravest of Gruffalo Spotters will be daring enough to get a photo with the Gruffalo. If you pluck up the courage, share your photos with #GruffaloSpotters. Happy Gruffalo tracking - and remember if the Gruffalo looks ready to eat you up, just tell him (with a squeak) that your favourite food is Gruffalo crumble!

*© 1999 & TM Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler. 

Licensed by Magic Light Pictures Ltd.