As we get closer to the wintertime — with plummeting temperature and insufficient food, this wintry situation can be a tough time for wildlife as they seek for a cosy spot to hibernate and look for some food resources.
With that, your garden could be their greatest asset at the moment. Instead of shooing the creatures away, you can take a step to help your local wildlife through this tough period.
If you want to learn how to care for them this winter and save the lives of others that otherwise wouldn’t make it through the harsher colder months, then keep on reading!
1. Save Your Garden Cleaning Until Early Spring
By leaving the task of cleaning up your garden until early spring, such as pruning shrubs and removing winter mulch — left over piles of leaves and brushwood can provide the perfect nest in which wildlife can hide, rest, and hibernate.
A compost heap can also be the perfect spot for toads, and even grass snakes and slow-worms to lie-low in the freezing weather.
2. Offer Water to Wildlife
Did you know that providing clean water and food for hedgehogs will encourage them to visit more often to your garden, especially this winter?
As they are in dire need of a place to survive their winter hibernation, a substantial amount of fat stored such as minced meat, fresh liver, tinned dog food, or even scrambled eggs will do!
Another thing to be mindful of is that hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Serving them with milk will only cause them severe diarrhoea, especially for the youngsters.
If you wish to serve them a drink, make it water. Always keep a supply of clean, fresh water available each night in a shallow bowl.
Lastly, to create welcome places for them this winter, instead of composting the leaves, collect and place them underneath hedges at the edge of the garden.
3. Pond-Maintenance During Winter
If you have a pond in your garden and it freezes over, it is essential to make a hole in it. But by doing so, make sure to place a pan of hot water in the surface carefully.
This will allow the toxic build-up gases to evaporate in the water of a frozen pond, assuring that your fishes or frogs that are hibernating at the bottom are safe.
Note: Never break the ice with force or tip boiling water on the pond as this can be dangerous or worse kill any fish that live in it.
4. Feeding Winter Birds
While it may not be that challenging for birds to find natural foods over the winter, such as berries, seeds, insects, and worms, any extra food you can put out will help.
You may provide them with a range of seeds, fresh unsalted peanuts and even table scraps like cheese fruits, e.g. apples and pears. As for garden birds, dried mealworms or waxworms, which can be bought from bird food suppliers, by the way, will be enough for them.
5. Prepare Your Wildlife Garden to Attract Garden Visitors This Winter
Here’s how you can attract garden visitors and at the same time help them survive this winter:
When food is scarce, putting out a small amount of treat is a great way to invite the mammals in your garden throughout the winter. And for animals listed down below, we have compiled the ideal foods you can give to them.
- Foxes – you may provide them with some boiled potatoes, cheese, chicken carcasses, bread and fat scraps at dusk.
- Squirrels – while they don’t normally hibernate, instead they cache food during autumn to eat when food is scarce. You may offer them with walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. As well as chopped apples, beans, carrots or spinach.
- Badgers – known for their love of earthworms, it can be challenging for them to find their favourite food when the ground is frozen. That said, provide them with lightly cooked meats, peanuts, cheese, and fruits.
Tips: Do not leave out a large amount of food every night to avoid your wildlife guests becoming dependent on handouts. It’s also not recommended to provide food if it encourages the animal to cross a busy road.