Environment

How to help heat-stressed wildlife this summer

Sharon Kelley24 December 2020
Four joey kangaroos on grass.

A quartet of Joeys raised by a WIRES volunteer in Candelo, NSW. Photo: Elka Wood.

Hot weather that continues during a period of days in summertime can affect our wildlife, and you may see them suffering from dehydration and exhaustion, according to WIRES.

Specific signs of heat stress to watch for include birds that are panting, indicating they are suffering heat stress. A bird will try to get out of the sun and into a cooler place so if you see a bird sitting outside in the full sun panting, there’s something wrong.

Put water in a shady place so it stays as cool as possible, and change the water daily or more frequently if possible. Keep containers clean and put them at different heights away from pets or predators, and put stones or sticks in the water for smaller creatures that may fall in.


READ ALSO: WIRES heat-sensing drone detects animals returning to burnt bush


Put shade over distressed animals, using a garden umbrella or other cover. Gently mist distressed animals with a very light spray of water, or place a sprinkler nearby.

Flying foxes and bats also pant and lick their wrists, and flap to try to stay cool. They will also hug trees because they are cooler than the air, and move down lower to the ground where it is cooler. They dive for water in dams and other water sources so leaving water out does not help them.

If you see a flying fox in distress, do not touch the animal – call WIRES on 1300 094 737.

Kangaroos and wallabies may be lying down and may not move away quickly if startled. They may also be seen salivating. It is important to never approach a macropod that is lying down. If they are heat stressed, this will exhaust them even more and they are very large, powerful animals.

If you believe a macropod or wombat needs help, call WIRES on the above number.


READ ALSO: Red-bellied black snake caught in netting freed by WIRES


Possums may emerge from roofs as the top of houses heat up. Lightly misting them with water will help, as will leaving bowls of water as close to where they live as possible.

You can also place some containers around the perimeter of your property, on the fence line, to provide water for reptiles. This has the added advantage of deterring reptiles from approaching houses to access water from taps and other sources closer to your house.

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