How to help wildlife in hot weather
Posted on 22 January, 2020 by Ivan
Central Victoria’s summers are often relentless, and don’t seem to be getting cooler and wetter anytime soon. Hence it’s a good time to reflect on the best methods of helping wildlife survive the warmer months. Thankfully, there is plenty of information already published and proven to work, which we’ve summarised in this post.
Animals Australia provides the following useful summary of priority actions that you can do to at your place to help wildlife right now.
1. Leave water out for animals
Sweltering summer days can be uncomfortable to be outside in for just a few minutes. Imagine what it’s like for animals who have no way of escaping the heat. During extreme heat waves, native animals can suffer terribly and even die. The simple act of providing them safe access to water can help them cope.
- Leave shallow dishes of water in the shade. Try to avoid metal dishes unless they’re in full shade as they will get very hot in the sun.
- Put some dishes high up or in trees if you can, to help keep wildlife safe from predators.
- Use shallow bowls if possible, as small birds can become trapped in deep dishes and drown. Cat litter trays can be suitable and inexpensive.
- If you use large bowls or buckets, be sure to place some sticks, rocks and/or bricks inside to allow any trapped animals to make their way out.
2. Keep dogs and cats indoors
Not only will this help your animal companions escape the heat, but it will enable thirsty wildlife to access water in your backyard safely.
3. Cover your pool
It may feel counter-intuitive to prevent wildlife from cooling down in your pool on a hot day. But heat-stressed animals looking to cool down are at risk of drowning in the deep water. It’s not great for animals to be drinking pool water anyway as it may make them sick. Ensure animals have access to safe and fresh water sources in your yard instead.
4. Keep an eye out for heat-stressed wildlife
If you spot any critters who look like they’re struggling, call your local vet or local wildlife rescue group (for contacts – click here) for help. During natural disasters (e.g., bushfires), wildlife carers can be overwhelmed, but your local vet may be available and can assess the situation and treat injured animals (for free).
Tips for heat-stressed wildlife:
- Be particularly mindful at dusk and at night as many nocturnal animals will be more active during this time.
- Prepare an emergency kit to keep in your car including water, a blanket or towel, and a box. For kit suggestions – click here
- Save a few local wildlife rescue contacts in your phone so that you can ring for advice if you need it. For contacts – click here
- Help reduce the chances of animals being hit on the road. For details – click here
5. Share your fruit trees with hungry wildlife
Wildlife who have survived through bushfire are hungry. They have not only lost their homes, but their sources of food. During this time of ecosystem disturbance and habitat loss, it’s never been more crucial to protect species like flying foxes, who are key pollinators for many plants. The more flying foxes we can keep healthy and happy, the better our ecosystems will survive and regenerate. So consider taking down your fruit tree netting, and share some fruit with native wildlife.
6. Know what to do if you find distressed or injured wildlife
If you have found an animal who is visibly distressed, wrap them loosely in a blanket or towel if it is safe to do so, and place them in a cardboard box, before placing the box in a dark, quiet and cool place. Injured animals will often be quite frightened, so if there is a risk they may scratch or bite, wear gloves and try gently ushering them into a washing basket without touching, them instead of wrapping them in a blanket or towel.
Offer water but not food and call a wildlife carer immediately, or your local vet. Never pour water into an animals’ mouth -it’s not natural and can cause additional distress and even physical harm. Instead, provide cool water in a bowl and allow them to lap from it.