Take some of the stress out of summer for our fabulous fauna

JUMP IN: Providing water and driving carefully are two ways to help wildlife. Picture: Shutterstock
JUMP IN: Providing water and driving carefully are two ways to help wildlife. Picture: Shutterstock

Australia's native wildlife makes our country so special, and whether you're travelling this holiday season or live somewhere wildlife is found, it's important to watch out for the animals around us and know how to help them if you need to.

Leave out water for wildlife

During days of extreme heat, you can help wildlife by leaving out bowls of fresh, clean water in shady locations. Shallow dishes are better for smaller animals.

Place the container in an area where animals are protected from predators when drinking (such as near a shrub or bush), and keep your pets away from this area so animals can drink undisturbed.

You can also put the sprinkler on for an hour for birds to have a quick bath to cool down, or use the garden hose to spray mist into trees.

Generally, unless you've been advised to by a vet or registered wildlife carer, you shouldn't attempt to feed wild animals.

Recognising heat-stressed animals

Animals stressed by the heat will often behave differently than normal.

Animals who are mainly active at night (such as possums) may come out during the day and animals who usually lives in trees (such as flying foxes and birds) may be seen on the ground.

Heat-stressed animals may also lose their balance, collapse or appear confused.

Possums may fall out of trees due to the heat and birds may pant and open their wings away from their body.

Animals stressed by the heat will often behave differently than normal.

What to do if you find injured or heat-stressed wildlife

If you find a sick or injured wild animal, contact your nearest veterinarian or wildlife care organisation as soon as possible.

In some states and territories that includes the RSPCA, but also includes other government departments or non-government organisations.

Contact details are on our Knowledgebase.

Wild animals become stressed by handling, so you should seek expert advice before handling an injured animal and keep handling to an absolute minimum.

Try to minimise the amount of exposure the injured animal has to people and loud noises.

Some wild animals (such as bats) carry dangerous diseases that can be lethal to humans, so should never be touched without expert advice and proper equipment.

If you do find yourself in a position where you have to rescue an animal suffering from heat stress and dehydration, wrap it loosely in a towel, place it in a cardboard box and offer water to drink.

Spraying with a fine mist of water can help to cool the animal down.

Again, seek expert advice from a vet or wildlife care organisation before doing anything (for example, do not attempt to cool down a heat-stressed baby possum as they need to stay warm and a sudden change in temperature could be fatal).

Also, be sure to record the exact location where the animal was found so it can be returned to the area if it recovers.

Watch out for wildlife on the roads

Sadly in Australia, wildlife is often struck and killed by motor vehicles.

You can help prevent this by being aware of where wildlife is located (such as by doing research on the area before a road trip), being extra careful when driving at dusk or dawn, making sure your horn and headlights work, and minimising distractions.

If you do hit an animal when driving, or see an animal who has been hit, call your nearest wildlife care organisation for advice.

Sometimes animals or birds get caught in car grills and engine bays when hit, so pull over and check your vehicle thoroughly.

Read more about helping wildlife during heat and helping injured wildlife on our Knowledgebase.