With temperatures hitting a record high, here is the essential guide to help your local wildlife cope with the hot weather. These are tips suggested for the UK, but their still relevant here across the pond.
With temperatures of 35C forecast for parts of the UK next week, there’s little respite in sight for wildlife that is wilting in the sun. Here are six tips to help pets and garden fauna to beat the heat.
A simple yet effective way of providing relief. Val Osborne, head of the RSPB’s wildlife enquiries team, explains:
“The hot weather could be causing natural water sources to dry up, meaning birds 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.”
Drier conditions make worms tunnel further into the soil, becoming scarce for the wildlife that usually feasts on them, such as blackbirds, robins, hedgehogs and frogs. To compensate, additional food should be left out to make sure suitable nutrition is provided throughout the summer to such animals. A novel substitute to earthworms is dog or cat food, which blackbirds readily take and feed to their chicks. The texture of tinned meaty chunks is perfect as it avoids hard lumps that cause birds to choke. Black sunflower seeds, mild grated cheese, and of course, bird seed, are also recommended, but make sure to steer well clear of any salts, which are toxic to birds.
Your garden is part of a bigger home for wildlife. Linking gardens together enables creatures, such as hedgehogs and toads, to move between your garden and those of your neighbours. Creating such nature highways and corridors – ie shrubby borders; leaving gaps beneath fences – raises the quality of the whole street for wildlife.
Be aware of the time
Head veterinary surgeon at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Shaun Opperman, says dog owners should avoid walks between 11am and 3pm, as these are the hottest times of the day. “Keep walks short and do indoor activities if your dog wants to play,” he says. Also keep in mind that walking dogs on hot surfaces can be dangerous for their paw pads, and ensure pets have plenty of shade if in the garden or on a picnic.
Dogs like lollies too. Opperman suggests that refreshing treats can be a brilliant way to help dogs cool down in the heat:
“Make ice lollies for dogs by mixing their food with some water and freezing it in a plastic cup. Remove it from the cup before giving it to your dog. Just like us, dogs and cats can get very uncomfortable in hot weather.”