As the weather warms up, you might be keen to know about ways you can support local wildlife. Here are the basics.
We all love our native animals and want to help them however we can. As the temperatures begin to rise this summer, you may become concerned about the creatures that call your neighbourhood home.
Here’s our top tips to help our little mates out.
1. Keep the ‘wild’ in wildlife by reconsidering food and water
Did you know that providing food or water to your local wildlife can cause more harm than good?
In general, the Department for Environment and Water advises against feeding or providing water to our wild animals.
It can cause problems ranging from poor nutrition to aggressive behaviour, or even physical injury to the animal. In time, they may even forget how to find their own food or water. You can learn more about keeping the ‘wild’ in wildlife on the department’s website.
Instead of leaving food and water out this summer, you could consider providing and maintaining areas of suitable natural habitat, such as planting native shrubs or providing nest boxes.
Following emergency situations like bushfires, providing water on a short-term basis can be beneficial. If you do plan to provide water for your local wildlife, we encourage you to follow these tips:
- To prevent the spread of disease, clean, thoroughly dry, and refill containers with fresh water daily. Alternatively, you can use a refilling water station.
- To make sure all animals can access it, provide the water at both ground level (suitable for most mammals, birds and reptiles) and elevated in trees for animals that are reluctant to visit the ground (such as possums and some birds).
- Water containers should be shallow, robust and stable. To help smaller animals safely access the water, add a rock or stick (or other suitable material) to the container.
- Place water at least 50 metres away from public roads.
- Rather than one large water container, provide several small containers with a lower volume of water. Space water containers as far apart as possible.
- If possible, place water containers in shaded areas or small clearings to encourage timid species and reduce the risk of predators.
- Do not add electrolytes, rehydration solutions or sugar to water.
- As conditions improve you should begin to phase out the supply of water stations.
2. Understand animal behaviour
Much like how we slow down and take it easy in the heat, it’s important to remember that many native animals change their behaviour in hot weather too. Although we have the best intentions, checking on wild animals can cause them more stress and may even put you at risk.
Here’s our top tips to understanding animal behaviour.
Koalas spend more time on the ground to keep cool in the summer. They also come down to look for water as the gum leaves they eat dry out in the hot weather.
Unless a koala is clearly sick or injured or doesn’t go back to the trees at night, its best to keep your pets away and let it be.
Snakes will avoid the heat of the day and may be active after the sun has set, so keep an eye out on your evening walk.
If a human or animal is bitten by a snake, seek medical attention immediately.
Read our snake blog for more information about avoiding snakes, and what to do if you encounter one.
Grey-headed flying foxes, or fruit bats, are becoming more common in South Australia but they don’t cope well with extreme heat.
Adults and pups can suffer from heat stress and fall from their perches onto the ground.
It’s very important to never pick up any type of bat, even if it’s dead. A small percentage of bats carry Lyssa virus, a rabies-like disease that can be passed on to humans through scratches or bites.
3. Know what to do if you find a sick or injured animal
Discovering injured wildlife can be a concerning and confronting experience, so here’s some things to consider before you jump right in and channel your inner Bondi Vet.
Firstly, you need to think of your own safety and those around you.
If a wild animal has been injured and is in distress, they can behave unexpectedly and differently than normal.
Wild animals can also carry parasites and disease that can affect humans, so it’s advisable to wear protective equipment where possible.
The welfare of the rescued animal is vitally important so unless you have a rescue permit it’s critical that you contact an experienced animal carer to alert them of the situation.
If it’s within a national park
If you find a native injured animal within a national park, contact the park’s regional duty officer.
They will be able to provide assistance, and if additional veterinary care is needed, will likely have the correct contacts for the situation.
If it’s outside of a national park
If you find a native, injured, animal outside of a park, contact a local wildlife rescue group for help.
The easiest way is to use an internet search engine to search by location and type of animal.
If it’s a marine mammal
If you find a sick or stranded marine mammal, including whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins, call a regional duty officer.
Marine mammals need specific care and there are important things you need to know before assisting, so it’s always best to phone the experts.
Remember: Rescued native animals require specialised care and treatment to recover and be returned to the wild. Permits are only suitable for people with a good knowledge of the animals and how to meet their needs.
This story was originally posted in December 2015 and has been updated with new information.