Winter can be a tough time for all of us, and our wildlife friends are particularly vulnerable. With temperatures plummeting and food becoming scarce, they often struggle to survive. Whilst some stock up in autumn and hibernate through the winter, others must face the daily challenge of finding food and water to see them through to the spring.

Read below to find out how you can help them through this difficult period.

 

Wild Gardens

Put off garden maintenance for a couple of months and allow it to grow wild. By leaving undisturbed piles of leaves, uncut shrubs and wood, you are potentially providing a habitat for the many different insects and animals that will visit your garden through the colder months. This gives them a safe, warm space to rest, hibernate, and hide. Compost heaps make a welcome habitat for toads, slowworms, and even grass snakes.

 

Break the Ice

If you have a pond in your garden, monitor it during particularly cold weather to check for it freezing over. If you notice that it has frozen over, you should carefully place a pan of hot water on the surface to form a small hole in the ice. It is important that you do this as toxic gases can build up in the water of a frozen pond, which have the potential to kill any fish or frogs that are hibernating below. By breaking the ice, you will also be allowing wildlife to drink, and enter and exit the pond.

 

Fresh Water

By leaving shallow bowls of clean water on the ground, you will encourage all types of animals to regularly visit your garden. If nearby rivers and streams freeze over, they may not have an alternative water source so would greatly appreciate your help to keep them hydrated. You could also invest in a bird bath to keep birds hydrated and clean.

 

Feed the Birds

During cold periods, birds may find it difficult to find natural food for themselves – such as berries, worms and insects. Therefore, any additional food you put out for them will be a great help. Birds like foods such as seeds, unsalted peanuts and fruits like apple and pear. You could also buy dried mealworms or suet balls for them. You may want to consider putting out a bird feeder and/or bird box so that they have a warm, comfortable and safe shelter when visiting you.

 

Food

Food is particularly scare for wildlife during winter. By putting out a small amount of their favourite snacks, you will encourage the beautiful animals to regularly visit your garden, but not become dependent on your handouts.