We’ve been focusing on keeping your pets safe this summer, but you might not realise that our wildlife can find heatwaves a struggle too. Not to worry though, there are things we can do to make life a little easier for wild animals.
Throughout protracted hot weather, birds can suffer from a lack of water. Providing a bird bath for them, regularly topped up with fresh water, can make a huge difference. If you don’t have one you can use a large, heavy tip-proof bowl. You can also place a number of bird feeders but, in this hot weather, it’s best to use nuts and dry seeds rather than fat balls or lard cakes. The heat can make fat go rancid quickly, which will do more harm than good! Make sure if you’re feeding nuts to the birds that they are ones that are pet-safe, just in case.
Bees are not only the cutest, fluffiest insects, they are also vitally important for the health of the planet as a whole. In fact, honey bees pollinate about a third of the food crops we consume. To help your local bees this summer you can place bee-friendly flowers in your garden, like cornflowers and lavender, or even put down a meadow seed mix from the British Beekeepers Association. To give them a water source, place some rocks and stone in your bird bath which break the surface of the water. This will give them something to land on while they drink.
Lots of people think that they should leave out bread and milk for hedgehogs but this is a bad idea. Like most animals, hedgehogs are only able to digest the milk their mothers make when they are infants. In adulthood they can’t process it, let alone milk from other animals. Instead, leave them a shallow dish of water and, if you like, a wet dog food. Make sure not to leave it long enough to go mouldy or rancid. It’s best to put out small amounts that will be gobbled up than huge quantities that will go bad or attract rats.
These little creatures are insectivores and will happily munch on mealworms if you leave them out. Again, make sure not to leave out vast amounts or you may draw the attention of some less desirable wildlife.
Voles are little mouse-like animals which will happily snack on any nuts or seeds that the birds don’t snaffle up. You can also throw them occasional berries.
Though traditionally thought of as carnivores, foxes are opportunistic feeders and will take what they can get! That means they’ll happily snaffle any dog food the hedgehogs don’t eat, and they’ll also eat fruit if you leave it out.
Badgers have a soft spot for peanuts. Try not to leave out whole ones because birds can choke on them. A smear of all-natural peanut butter might be just the ticket, though most gardens aren’t especially accessible to badgers in the first place.
You’re unlikely to see a deer in your back garden and if they do visit they’re likely to trash it. However, one unexpected way to look after deer in the summer is to drive a little slower and pay close attention on the roads. Deer can move very quickly and will not always behave how you’d expect them to. Leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles and be prepared to brake suddenly to avoid a collision.
Here are Animal Friends we care about the wellbeing of animals, and that includes wildlife. Are you caring for wildlife in summer? Why not show us photos of your wildlife-friendly gardens on Facebook and Twitter?