Australia is experiencing one of the hottest summers on record. As urbanisation and the threat of climate change increase, Australia’s native wildlife is suffering from dehydration. For those of us who are not travelling this summer, we can look out for our local fauna and provide sources of much-needed water. It’s easy to help our local wildlife and there are a few ways you can provide sources of drinking water. Here are some simple steps to ensure your local wildlife is well-watered.
Put out containers filled with water
As local water sources are drying out, containers filled with water are a great start. Choose containers that are shallow enough for birds and smaller mammals to drink from. Fill containers in the cooler hours of the morning and place them under trees and bushes. Trees provide shade for the water and the water stays cooler for longer. Place a number of containers around your front and backyards so that local wildlife has an ample supply of water. Be sure to empty, clean and refill containers daily so that water supplies remain fresh and healthy.
Add ice cubes to containers of water
Check for local weather reports and monitor when your area is going to be affected by an extreme weather day. On extreme weather days, add ice blocks to water containers so that water stays cooler throughout the day.
Consider all sizes of wildlife
Consider the sizes of animals who will visit your garden; from birds to insects and smaller mammals and reptiles. Provide a bird bath and replenish it daily for those bigger animals. Smaller animals require smaller vessels of water that are placed close to vegetation. If the container is deep, add small branches to act as perches. Pop a rock in the middle of the container to make it sturdy. The vegetation provides a safe space for birds; sufficient shelter to help them feel safe and welcome in your yard. Larger mammals including koalas and echidnas have been known to drink from both containers and bird baths.
Protect local wildlife from your pets
Cats and dogs are a threat to local wildlife. Reconsider leaving your pets outside on hot weather days and keep them indoors if it’s possible. Cats and dogs are susceptible to dehydration, too. If they are kept inside, they avoid dehydration and are less of a threat to native wildlife.
If there is a sick or injured animal in your area
With a little ingenuity, you can help your local wildlife survive this summer. If you suspect an animal is heat stressed or injured, contact your local wildlife rescue organisation immediately and follow their advice. In Australia, the RSPCA’s list of nationwide and state-based organisations is a helpful place to start.