Many of our garden visitors are struggling in the hot weather
Last week we talked about how to care for our pets during the heat but we must not forget that other animals are struggling too. Hedgehogs, varieties of birds and bees are on the decline and need our support all year round but particularly in hot or cold weather.
How to help
We need to spread the word and get people to put out shallow dishes of water around their gardens. A simple bowl of water (never milk) can make the difference between life and death for lots of animals & birds including hedgehogs. Shallow dishes placed around the edge of a garden & under bushes/shrubs will be a life saver. They need to be shallow so the little hoglets can get in them to drink as well and please keep them topped up.The RSPB is advising people to put out supplementary food as the hot weather may mean natural supplies, like worms, become scarce as the ground becomes dry and hard..
*Val Osborne, the head of RSPB’s wildlife enquiries team, said: “While we all revel in an unusually sunny summer, our garden wildlife might not be having such a good time. The hot weather could be causing natural water sources to dry up, meaning birds, bees and hedgehogs could be left without anything to drink.
“Turning your outside space into a home for nature by doing simple things like topping up your birdbath, creating a make-shift pond from a washing-up tub or putting down a saucer filled with water could offer a vital lifeline to some of our garden favourites that are already fighting against declines.” The RSPB is also advising people to put out supplementary food as the hot weather may mean natural supplies, like worms, become scarce.Val added: “When it’s particularly dry, worms tunnel right down into the soil, meaning they become out of reach to the wildlife that usually feasts on them, such as blackbirds, robins, hedgehogs and frogs.“If the hot, dry conditions carry on we may see wild plants start to die, meaning bees and butterflies will find it hard. If that happens, our gardens and the well-watered plants in them will become even more important to these insects.”
Cat food or dry mealworms are both good to supplement the diets of hedgehogs. Never give birds or hedgehogs bread and milk. They cannot digest dairy products and they can make them quite unwell. A hedgehog that is struggling is susceptible to fly strike (flies laying eggs that turn into maggots) so if you have one in the garden that is not acting as it should, it is worth scooping it up and taking to to a vet for a check up. Vets should check wildlife free of charge. Only take young if you are sure there is an issue. Removing them from their parents and environment could hamper their chances of survival.
Protecting backyard poultry
If you keep chickens be vigilant. Foxes will be on the prowl but also badgers will be finding it harder to dig for food. They have been known to take chickens.
*Val Osbourne quote from Lancaster Guardian