Help wildlife survive the summer heat

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LAST UPDATED: 8 December 2016

Australian summers can be tough for people and animals ...

And while many of us can endure the hottest days with the help of air conditioning and plenty of fluids to keep us hydrated, our wildlife friends can suffer terribly during extreme heat, and even die. Doing these 5 simple things might make the difference between life and death for wildlife when your area is enveloped by scorching temperatures:

Leave water out.

Some companion animals have the luxury of air conditioning, but our wild natives often just swelter. Leave shallow dishes of water in the shade — and high up if possible, to keep wildlife safe from predators. Shallow bowls are best, as small birds can become trapped in deep dishes and drown. So if you only have large bowls or buckets — place some large twigs inside to allow any trapped animals to make their way out.

Keep dogs and cats indoors.

Not only will this help your animal companions escape the heat, but it will enable thirsty wildlife to access water in your backyard safely.

Cover your pool.

Hot animals trying to beat the heat or quench their thirst can drown in pools so taking away that access can save lives (of course you'll have water dishes out anyway, right?)

Keep an eye out for heat-stressed wildlife.

If you spot any critters who look like they're struggling, call your local wildlife group for help. Be particularly mindful at dusk and at night as many nocturnal animals will be more active during this time. Prepare an emergency kit to keep in your car including water, a blanket/towel, and a box — and save a few local wildlife rescue contacts in your phone so that you can ring for advice if you need it. Here are some measures you can take to help reduce the chances of animals being hit on the road.

Emergency care for distressed animals.Photo: Peter Weaving/Bendigo Advertiser

If you have found an animal who is visibly distressed, wrap them loosely and place them in a cardboard box, before placing the box in a dark, quiet, and cool place. Offer water but not food and call a wildlife carer immediately, or your local vet. DO NOT wrap heat stressed animals in wet towels or submerse in water — this can kill them.

IMPORTANT: If you come across an injured or heat-stressed flying fox (fruit bat) DO NOT TOUCH the animal. This is for the animals’ own safety. Instead, immediately call a wildlife carer for advice.

What does a heat-stressed animal look like?

Some of the signs that a native animal is heat-stressed include:

  • Nocturnal (active at night) animals, such as possums, out during the day
  • Tree-dwelling animals such as koalas, on the ground
  • Birds or animals displaying any loss of balance, collapse, confusion or panting

Passionate about helping wildlife?

Go the extra mile for wildlife by becoming a wildlife carer yourself!


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