Water for wildlife

© Chris Speller

As the current heatwave continues, we need to consider water for wildlife as well as people.

This summer has been a scorcher and with little to no rain in Surrey for over a month, water is under pressure (or lack of in some cases).

Hosepipe bans have already come into force in some parts of the country, water pressure is dropping at peak times as everyone turns on the hosepipe and a global shortfall in carbon dioxide production is leading to a shortage of carbonated drinks as everyone enjoys a cold beverage to stave off the heat (the World Cup and Wimbledon might also have something to do with it).

However, it's not just us humans whose need for water increases in prolonged hot weather. Wildlife needs water too!

Here are a few simple tips to help wildlife where you live during the hot spell:


1. Take a dip
Wildlife ponds will attract a number of wildlife species to drink or make a home. They also make for a great habitat in the garden. If you don't have the space (or energy in the current heat) to make a pond, try making a simple container pond from an old bucket.

How to make a pond

2. Offer a drink
Leave out a saucer of water for mammals like hedgehogs and foxes, garden birds and amphibians such as toads and newts.

3. Puddling pools
Add water saturated sand or dirt to a saucer to create a butterfly 'puddler' - Butterflies drink by “puddling”. They sip at shallow puddles of water in mud or sand instead of landing in large open water areas. They also extract minerals from the dirt. Don't forget to add a few stones for the butterflies to drink from.

4. Keep it clean
Purchase or make a bird bath and keep it topped up for bathing and drinking.

More on caring for birds

5. Food for thought
Put out wet dog or cat food (no fish) for hedgehogs as a food supplement. Worms head down and out of reach in search of cool moist soil and slugs are less likely to come out in hot weather.

More on helping hedgehogs

6. A big butt
Install a water butt early in the season to capture rain water. This will help feed your garden and keep plants alive for wildlife without wasting tap water.

7. Flower power
Plant drought resistant nectar rich flowering plants - in the hot weather wild plants may start to die, making our gardens even more important for wildlife.

More on planting for pollinators