Here are some handy tips to help the animals in your backyard survive the summer.
Australian summers can be rough at the best of times, even when you have access to an air conditioner.
Many of us have the option of retreating indoors and staying hydrated, but a lot of animals struggle to stay alive during the worst heat waves.
Luckily there are plenty of ways we can help!
Follow these simple tips from the RSPCA and Australian Geographic to help the critters in your backyard stay cool this summer.
Add a few birdbaths to your backyard
Despite the name, birds aren’t the only animals that benefit from a backyard birdbath.
Plenty of other animals, including koalas, echidnas, foxes and others use birdbaths as well, so it’s a good idea to put a number of different baths in your yard.
Don’t worry; birdbaths don’t have to be elaborate! Birds aren’t fussy when it comes to bathing, so in most cases you can get away with some old pots or buckets.
It’s important to remember that a wide range of birds and animals will probably want to use the baths. To make all the animals happy, place them in different spots around your yard.
Baths placed in the centre of your yard will probably be fine for larger birds and other animals, however it may not cater to the smaller birds.
If you do end up using a bucket or something similar, place some rocks and sticks inside to give the smaller birds a leg up if they need help getting out.
Smaller birds also struggle to fly when wet, so it’s a good idea to put a bath next to some rocks or other flat surface. This will give them a spot to dry off before flying away!
Try and put some baths under a shaded area, like a pergola or verandah, to give the animals some respite from the sun.
Recognise heat-stressed animals
If you’re going to be able to help properly, it’s important you recognise when an animal is struggling in the heat.
Animals that are stressed out will often change their behaviour. Symptoms include loss of balance and confusion.
Nocturnal animals may start to come out during the day and animals that usually live in trees may relocate to the ground.
How do I help an animal suffering in the heat?
It’s a good idea to keep a cardboard box and towel handy, as well as phone numbers of local wildlife organisations.
If you do find a wild animal in distress, don’t approach it or pick it up unless you absolutely have to. Even being near humans can cause them stress!
Don’t put yourself in danger and under no circumstances should you approach a bat or flying fox. These animals can carry the Lyssa Virus, which can result in illness and death if you’re not vaccinated.
If you do rescue an animal suffering from heat stress, wrap it loosely in a towel, place it in a cardboard box and offer it some water.
You can also spray it with the mist from a spray bottle to help cool it down.
Leave it in a dark, cool and quiet place and contact a local wildlife organisation. It’s also a good idea to note the spot you found it, so the organisation can return it later.
Keep domestic pets indoors
Domestic pets such as cats and dogs can pose a threat to the wildlife in your backyard.
Keeping your beloved pets indoors won’t just help them beat the heat; it will help the wildlife in your yard handle it better as well.
Cover your swimming pool
Despite it being a source of hydration for animals, a swimming pool can actually be quite dangerous for backyard wildlife.
Animals that are trying to stay cool or quench their thirst in a swimming pool can easily drown.
It’s best to cover your pool and create makeshift birdbaths at various locations in your yard.
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