With temperatures high and water levels low, here are some tips for using your kitchen to help local wildlife.
- Keep bird baths topped up with clean water so birds can drink, cool down and keep themselves clean.
- Drier conditions make worms tunnel further into the soil, making them difficult for birds to feed on. Leave extra food out for birds; this can be bird seed, sunflower seeds, mild grated cheese or even soft, meaty dog or cat food.
- While you may not be able to water your garden due to water restrictions, try and use second-hand water where possible. Emptying used, wet coffee grounds into flowerbeds provides both nutrients and moisture to the soil, and hence to the plants and any animals that feed on them – this is a good tip all year round. You can also place a bucket in your shower to collect water that would otherwise be wasted; however, you’ll need to make sure that soap doesn’t get into the water.
- Put out shallow dishes of water to provide easy drinking places for thirsty bees. Add a few small stones to give them somewhere to perch.
- Bees travel far and wide and can occasionally find themselves exhausted and miles from home. If you see a bee that’s alive but resting on the ground, combine a little sugar and water together and use a spoon to dribble it gently in front of the bee. Drinking this should revive him.
- Shallow water bowls will also provide relief for hedgehogs. Don’t leave out milk for them, however, as it can cause diarrhoea and dehydrate them further.
- Clean water containers daily and dry before refilling to reduce the risk of spreading disease. Place water dishes a little apart from bushes and trees to minimise the risk of predation from cats.
Taking care of your own animals is just as important.
- Avoid walking dogs in the afternoon, going instead in the early morning and late evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Before walking, check the temperature of the ground outside using the inside of your wrist. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for their paws, and they can end up with nasty burns.
- Make sure your pets have access to shade and clean, cool water at all times.
- Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. Dogs in particular can overheat extremely quickly as they cool themselves by panting; hot air prevents them from being able to regulate their body temperatures. The inside of the car can reach fatal temperatures for a dog in under 10 minutes.