How can you help wildlife in the heatwave?
- Credit: Archant
When the weather stays so hot for so long, water and shade become vital to wild animals.
As Suffolk sees temperatures as high as 33 degrees, it’s easy to reach for a cold drink, stay in the shade or turn on a fan.
For the wildlife in our gardens and open spaces, there isn’t so many luxuries and the heat can be dangerous, if not deadly.
Follow our top 10 tips for helping out the animals around you and make sure their sizzling summer is a safe one:
Leaving water in your garden
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If you have any outdoor ground-level space, leave a shallow bowl of water for smaller animals like hedgehogs to stop for a drink.
You can even leave a larger, taller bowl for animals like foxes and badgers.
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Water for bees
Something you can do no matter what ground-level or garden space you have is leave water for bees to stop and drink.
Just a shallow dish with a little water, and ideally some pebbles, can give a bee a much-needed pit-stop in the heat.
Make sure there’s shade
Even for nocturnal animals the earth is a lot hotter than usual and smaller animals may get stuck in sun traps, unable to cool down.
If you have tall, leafy plants, umbrellas or a way of constructing some shaded areas, keep them up to create cooler spots in your garden.
Add a dripper
If you have a birdbath, keep it full and try hanging a container above it with a small hole in the bottom.
Fill the container with water and it will slowly drip into the birdbath.
The sound will attract the birds, the after will keep them cooler and the container will save you filling it up so often - win-win-win.
Move your birdhouses
You can’t move your trees or fences, but moving birdhouses out of regular direct sunlight can keep birds cooler.
Help out with some bird food
Drier conditions make worms, bugs and other grubs burrow deeper to keep cool and find moisture, which leaves birds less foot to eat.
Compensate with a little more bird seed on your bird tables or invest in a hanging bird feeder, placed in a shady spot.
Let your garden grow
Fast-growing plants like ivy can develop a lot of leaves, and a lot of shade, in a short space of time.
If left to grow it can offer vital safe spaces for bats and birds to get out of the sun.
Hedgehogs and other ground level animals like to move from garden to garden, so if you have a gap in your fence or a shrubbery border, leave space for them to get into your neighbours garden.
The more wildlife can move between gardens, the better quality of wildlife is for everyone.
Keeping your eyes peeled
Animals, domestic and wild, behave very differently when they get stressed from overheating.
Look out for signs of confusion, a loss of balance or erratic movements - especially if you see nocturnal animals in the daytime.
Knowing the numbers
If you think you’ve found an animal in distress, remember the numbers to call for help.
Make a note of a local vets usual and out-of-hours numbers, and remember not to approach animals like badgers and foxes - they’re easily frightened and may bite if they feel threatened.
For advice on how to help wild animals, Call Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089 or Essex on 01621 862960.
In emergencies, the RSPCA can also be reached on 0300 1234 999.
Want to share your own tips? Add your own in the comments.