Help Buddies Beat the Heat
Bushfires and heatwaves are often synonymous with the Australian summer. While you take shelter in an air-conditioned building and cool down with a glass of ice water, spare a thought for the native animals that live near you.
Bats, possums, birds and many other animals can become dehydrated or die due to extremely hot weather. The easiest thing you can do to help your local animals is to provide them with a water source.
Before you go to work or school each morning, fill a shallow dish with water. Place it in a shady spot in the backyard next to some shrubs or bushes, so that it has some protection from predators and doesn’t heat up too much.
When you get home, use the leftover water on your garden, and place fresh water out again each day.
Not only will native birds, lizards, bugs and other animals be able to get a drink, but if they are extremely hot, they can always climb in and splash around to cool down.
Keep your cat indoors as the hot weather forces wildlife out of their trees and hollows and onto the ground, making them more vulnerable to cat attacks.
If you see a native bird or animal really under stress from the heat, it’s a good idea to call someone. You can ring a wildlife carer, a local vet, your local council, or the state’s environment department for help.
Tips for Helping Wildlife during Bushfires and Heatwaves
- Leave bowls of water out in shady spots. Keep the bowls clean, and freshen the water daily.
- Keep your pets indoors, so that wildlife has a chance to get to the water unhindered.
- If you put out a large tub of water, make sure to provide a stick or rocks for animals to use to climb out.
- Keep a cardboard box and a towel in the boot of your car in case you find an injured animal.
- Write down the phone numbers of a few wildlife carer organisations, and put it in the glovebox of your car, so that you know who to call in case you spot an injured animal.
- If you rescue an animal that has been burnt or suffering from dehydration, wrap it loosely, place it in a cardboard box, and keep it in a dark and quiet place. Offer it water, but not food. Call a wildlife carer as soon as possible for assistance and advice.
- If you rescue an injured animal, or see one but can’t stop, take down the exact address where you first saw it so that it can be taken back to its territory – this gives the animal a much better chance of survival after it has been rehabilitated.
- Unless advised by a wildlife carer, do not try to feed native animals.
- Do not leave food out in national parks for wildlife.
Some signs that your local wildlife is stressed include:
- Seeing animals which are nocturnal—mainly active at night—out during the day.
- Seeing animals which are usually arboreal—tree dwelling—on the ground.
- Birds or animals displaying any loss of balance, collapse or prolonged confusion.