Help your wild friends this winter

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I promise you, I didn’t bring this cold snowy weather back with me from Canada. It may be pretty, and a dream for all the school kids with their extra snow days off , but for our urban and countryside wildlife the snow and freezing temperatures causes serious problems. Food , fresh water and shelter all become harder to find , so here are a few simple tips we can all do to make our wild friends lives that little bit easy during this cold snap.
Ice ice baby………

Try to provide clean ice free water in a shallow bowl or tray for visiting bird to drink. If you have a garden pond which freezes over you could be trapping dangerous toxic gases in the water which can harm or kill fish and frogs. Carefully melt a small section of the ice or try leaving a ball floating in the water to help keep a section clear of ice. Never attempt to smash the ice , this could also harm any fish in the pond.

Feed me , feed me now…..

Birds may find it hard to find natural foods such as insects, seeds, worms and fruit during this cold season. Extra food you can put out will help. Provide a range of seeds, fresh unsalted peanuts and table scraps. Garden birds also love dried mealworms or waxworms, which can be bought from ant good pet store.

The whole hog….

If you’re lucky and have hedgehogs visiting your garden, remember to provide clean water and  food. Fresh meat or dog food will do just fine. It’s worth remembering that our prickly friends are lactose intolerant, and milk can cause severe diarrhoea so no milk please. Make sure the water is in a shallow bowl.

Finally Mr Fox , Badger and friends….
Foxes will eat most scraps. Put them out at dusk with any left over cheese, boiled potatoes, chicken carcasses or jam sandwiches. Squirrels do not hibernate, instead they store food  during autumn to eat when food is scarce. Offer them nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, plus some chopped apple or carrots. Badgers have a tough time finding their favourite food – earthworms – when the ground is frozen. Provide them with lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit. Do not leave out large quantities of food each evening to avoid your guests becoming dependent on handouts.

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