Over the past couple of weeks we’ve shared tips for keeping cool in the summer heat. Now it’s the animals’ turn!
Hot weather can make conditions difficult for wildlife. Here are our tips for playing your part in looking after our feathered, furry and other wild friends!
Leave out water
As the dry spell continues, natural water sources dry up. This affects many wild creatures, including birds, hedgehogs and bees.
Leave out shallow bowls of water that aren’t deep enough to be a drowning risk. For bees, adding pebbles to the bowls gives them a place to land.
Birds will also welcome birdbaths to cool down and stay clean. If you don’t have a purpose built birdbath, leave shallow trays of water in shady areas for birds to splash in.
Create shady areas
If you have a garden and can leave sections overgrown, wildlife will thank you for the shelter! Ivy is a particularly helpful plant, providing food as well as a cool place to rest for birds, bats and bugs.
You can create shady spots with a bug hotel or woodpile too. The RSPB has guidance on creating a bug hotel here.
Provide extra food
While we often think winter is the time to leave out extra food for birds and small mammals, the hot days of summer can cause hunger too. The dry weather means worms tunnel deeper into the soil in search of cooler temperatures, and are out of the reach of birds.
To help, leave out wet cat or dog food, which is a good replica (but be careful not to let it go off and poison the birds). Seeds and chopped fruit are also welcome snacks for birds.
Water your plants
While we need to conserve water and not be wasteful, wildlife will thank you for keeping plants alive! Ideally, use a water butt and watering can rather than a hose, and target your watering effectively. Flowering plants provide food for bees and butterflies, and as wild flowers may be dying off in the heat, taking steps to keep garden flowers alive is important.
Using a mulch on soil will help prevent it drying out, helping the insects that live in your flower and veg beds. Wood chips and manure are examples of biodegradable mulches. Or you could use pebbles or gravel to keep the ground cool.
And don’t forget pets too – avoid walking your dog during the hottest part of the day, and stick to cooler natural surfaces such as grass, rather than pavements and tarmac which can feel like hot coals to unprotected animal pads. Make sure all pets have a good supply of water and shady places to rest.
We hope everyone – including the animals – can stay cool during the heatwave! If we’ve missed any tips, let us know on our Facebook Page!