Native wildlife - doing it tough in the heatwave

Native wildlife are doing it tough in the hot weather – but a few minutes of your time can make a little difference, no matter where you live, simply by putting out fresh drinking water, says Monique Decortis, Wildlife Rehabilitator and Educator on Wildlife issues.

 Monique Decortis, Wildlife Rehabilitator and Educator on Wildlife issues.

Many people have birdbaths in a shady spot in their garden.  These are great, but please also put out dishes with water on the ground in a shady, quiet spot in your gardens for animals such as skinks, lizards and echidnas, and for possums and sugar gliders who cannot get to birdbaths that are on a pedestal.

Ideally, use a shallow ceramic or terracotta dish so it does not tip over easily. Ensure that animals that fall into a dish can save themselves, by putting a rock (for shallow dishes) or a large stick or branch in any water container that is left outside.

Many animals and birds are territorial, so put out several dishes of varying sizes around your garden.  

Blue tongue lizards are staying close to people’s homes for water. They are harmless, please protect them from your pets. Be aware that snakes are also very active in hot weather, and they may be attracted to the water, even in the more suburban areas, so put the dishes away from the house.

If you live on a larger property, you may want to put out larger receptacles as well. I have seen wallabies, roos and echidnas come to a kiddies wading pool which I have at the bottom of my property.  

Dogs left out in the yard at night will prevent wildlife coming to the water. Please ensure that wildlife can access the water you leave out. Keep an eye out for the neighbour’s cats that might see the water dish as a source for attracting its next meal.  Please do not leave small children unattended near water dishes, even shallow ones.

Water evaporates very fast on hot days, don’t forget to top up the water regularly!! Encourage other people to put out water too.

More and more kangaroos are entering urban and suburban areas, this can be drought related, but is also caused by urban spread. Many male kangaroos are on the move and unfortunately many roos are hit on the roads daily. Please drive a little slower.

If encountering a kangaroo on the road while driving, especially at night, please pull of the road, turn of your headlights for a few minutes and allow the kangaroo to orientate itself and move of the road. Warn oncoming cars by flashing your headlights several times before pulling off the road.

Ringtail possums live in trees in open nests made from small sticks (dreys), they dehydrate more easily as they are more exposed to the heat than brushtail possums that tend to live in hollows. On very hot days, ringtails can often be seen staggering across the road in the late afternoon, delirious with dehydration.  Sometimes they do not need more than to be cooled down and offered water.  If this does not have an effect, please take the animal to a wildlife shelter or veterinary surgery.

If you encounter wildlife in trouble please contact you local wildlife shelter, a veterinary surgeon or call Wildlife Victoria on 13000 WILDLIFE or 13000 94535 , or Help for Wildlife on 0417 380 687. If large animals need to be euthanised on the road, please call the local ranger or the police.

Monique can be contacted on (03) 9719 7661 or decortis@bigpond.net.au