As the days get colder and darker, it’s the time of year that we all wrap up warm in hats, coats, gloves and scarves, but how do animals survive the winter? Many animals will hibernate or migrate for the winter, but how can we help those that don’t? We have a few simple things that you can do in your own garden to help them.
Birds can find it difficult to find food in the colder weather, so any food you put out will be a big help to them and will attract wildlife to your garden. Leave out a range of seeds, unsalted peanuts, halved apples and dried mealworms, or if you like gardening plant a shrub such as hawthorn to grow some berries in your garden.
Butterflies struggle to fly in the rain as they need warmth to be able to fly and breed. To help them, grow a patch of long grass for species such as meadow brown, gatekeeper, ringlet and speckled wood, or if you can, grow some nettles in a sunny spot to help peacock, painted lady and red admiral. The long grass will give them a warm place to stay dry and breed in.
Frogs, Toads and Fish
If you have a pond in your garden you can help the wildlife that lives or is hibernating within it. If your pond freezes over, make a hole in the ice to stop toxic gasses from building up which can be extremely harmful to your pond friends. Never break the ice with force, to make a hole in the ice carefully place a pan of hot water on the surface to break it, never pour boiling water onto the pond as this can be extremely harmful.
Leave out fresh water, and meat based (not fish) dog or cat food to help fatten Hedgehogs up for the winter. Create a little haven for hedgehogs by making leaf piles and log piles to help them nest in. Plant wildflowers, position a cut out in the garden fence for access or even create your own hedgehog home to help them hibernate. Remember when tidying leaf piles in your garden and lighting bonfires that these could be potential hibernation spots – so check first to make sure! Follow this link to find out more about how you can help hedgehogs this winter.
Buying in flowering plants could offer a lifeline to late-flying bees this year. Last year was a disastrous year for bumblebees due to flooded areas and food availability being poor. Choose plants like Sedum spectabile, ivy and Verbena bonariensis to boost food availability.
Squirrels don’t hibernate in winter. They will hide away food during autumn so they have something to eat when food is scarce. Help them out by leaving out nuts such as walnuts, hazlenuts and almonds, and even some chopped apple, beans, carrots or spinach.
If you’ve ever seen a badger around your area, welcome them into your garden by providing them with lightly cooked meats, peanuts cheese and fruit. They often have a though time finding earthworms, their favourite food when the ground is frozen.