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Whether they are searching for a suitable space in which to hibernate undisturbed or struggling to find food and water throughout the season, winter can be tough for wildlife. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can help – read on to find out how!
Feed the wildlife
It can be difficult for birds to find enough food during the winter. Fill up your bird feeder with suet, sunflower hearts and unsalted peanuts, or put out table scraps and fruit. For more information, visit the RSPB website.
Hedgehogs will eat dog or cat food (but not fish-based), cat biscuits, seeds and nuts. Don’t put out milk and bread, as these can cause diarrhoea and dehydration.
Squirrels will appreciate nuts and chopped fruit and vegetables such as apples, beans and carrots.
Don’t put out large quantities of food, or your animal visitors might become dependent.
Put out fresh water
Fill up your bird bath with clean water, and put out a shallow bowl of water for hedgehogs and other small mammals.
Make an insect hotel
This is a good project for you to do with the children! A well-built bug hotel will shelter anything from bees to ladybirds, and possibly even small mammals, frogs and toads too. This is a good way to make use of hollow bamboo canes, dead hollow stems and fallen leaves!
Clean out bird boxes
Put on some old gloves and give bird boxes a scrub with hot water and a mild detergent to ensure they are ready for more baby birds in spring or a bit of shelter on cold nights!
Leave healthy herbaceous plants alone
Don’t prune these plants until early spring, as they make good homes for insects.
Be careful with the compost
Animals such as frogs and toads can use compost heaps as refuges, so be careful if you decide to turn your compost with a fork!
Leave a little mess
Piles of fallen leaves and rotting logs can house numerous hibernating insects and are used by hedgehogs to build their nests, so don’t be too quick to tidy up!
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