How to help native animals in hot weather

How to help native animals in hot weather

There’s lots you can do to help native wildlife when the weath­er heats up. Here are the basics.

We all love our native ani­mals and want to help them how­ev­er we can. As the tem­per­a­tures begin to rise this sum­mer, you may become con­cerned about the crea­tures that call your neigh­bour­hood home. 

Here’s our top tips to help our lit­tle mates out.

1. Keep the wild’ in wildlife by recon­sid­er­ing food and water

Did you know that pro­vid­ing food or water to your local wildlife can cause more harm than good? 

In gen­er­al, the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water advis­es against feed­ing or pro­vid­ing water to our wild animals. 

It can cause prob­lems rang­ing from poor nutri­tion to aggres­sive behav­iour, or even phys­i­cal injury to the ani­mal. In time, they may even for­get how to find their own food or water. You can learn more about keep­ing the wild’ in wildlife on the department’s website. 

Instead of leav­ing food and water out this sum­mer, you could con­sid­er pro­vid­ing and main­tain­ing areas of suit­able nat­ur­al habi­tat, such as plant­i­ng native shrubs or pro­vid­ing nest boxes.

Fol­low­ing emer­gency sit­u­a­tions like bush­fires, pro­vid­ing water on a short-term basis can be ben­e­fi­cial. If you do plan to pro­vide water for your local wildlife, we encour­age you to fol­low these tips: 

  • To pre­vent the spread of dis­ease, clean, thor­ough­ly dry, and refill con­tain­ers with fresh water dai­ly. Alter­na­tive­ly, you can use a refill­ing water sta­tion.
  • To make sure all ani­mals can access it, pro­vide the water at both ground lev­el (suit­able for most mam­mals, birds and rep­tiles) and ele­vat­ed in trees for ani­mals that are reluc­tant to vis­it the ground (such as pos­sums and some birds).
  • Water con­tain­ers should be shal­low, robust and sta­ble. To help small­er ani­mals safe­ly access the water, add a rock or stick (or oth­er suit­able mate­r­i­al) to the container.
  • Place water at least 50 metres away from pub­lic roads.
  • Rather than one large water con­tain­er, pro­vide sev­er­al small con­tain­ers with a low­er vol­ume of water. Space water con­tain­ers as far apart as possible.
  • If pos­si­ble, place water con­tain­ers in shad­ed areas or small clear­ings to encour­age timid species and reduce the risk of predators.
  • Do not add elec­trolytes, rehy­dra­tion solu­tions or sug­ar to water.
  • As con­di­tions improve you should begin to phase out the sup­ply of water stations.

2. Under­stand ani­mal behaviour

Much like how we slow down and take it easy in the heat, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that many native ani­mals change their behav­iour in hot weath­er too. Although we have the best inten­tions, check­ing on wild ani­mals can cause them more stress and may even put you at risk. 

Here’s our top tips to under­stand­ing ani­mal behaviour. 


Koalas spend more time on the ground to keep cool in the sum­mer. They also come down to look for water as the gum leaves they eat dry out in the hot weather.

Unless a koala is clear­ly sick or injured or doesn’t go back to the trees at night, its best to keep your pets away and let it be.


Snakes will avoid the heat of the day and may be active after the sun has set, so keep an eye out on your evening walk.

If a human or ani­mal is bit­ten by a snake, seek med­ical atten­tion immediately.

Read our snake blog for more infor­ma­tion about avoid­ing snakes, and what to do if you encounter one.

Fly­ing foxes

Grey-head­ed fly­ing fox­es, or fruit bats, are becom­ing more com­mon in South Aus­tralia but they don’t cope well with extreme heat.

Adults and pups can suf­fer from heat stress and fall from their perch­es onto the ground.

It’s very impor­tant to nev­er pick up any type of bat, even if it’s dead. A small per­cent­age of bats car­ry Lyssa virus, a rabies-like dis­ease that can be passed on to humans through scratch­es or bites.

If you see a bat on the ground, call Fau­na Res­cue or Ade­laide Bat Care and they will send some­one out who has been vac­ci­nat­ed and trained to safe­ly han­dle bats.

3. Know what to do if you find a sick or injured animal

Dis­cov­er­ing injured wildlife can be a con­cern­ing and con­fronting expe­ri­ence, so here’s some things to con­sid­er before you jump right in and chan­nel your inner Bon­di Vet.

First­ly, you need to think of your own safe­ty and those around you.

If a wild ani­mal has been injured and is in dis­tress, they can behave unex­pect­ed­ly and dif­fer­ent­ly than normal.

Wild ani­mals can also car­ry par­a­sites and dis­ease that can affect humans, so it’s advis­able to wear pro­tec­tive equip­ment where possible.

The wel­fare of the res­cued ani­mal is vital­ly impor­tant so unless you have a res­cue per­mit it’s crit­i­cal that you con­tact an expe­ri­enced ani­mal car­er to alert them of the situation.

If it’s with­in a nation­al park

If you find a native injured ani­mal with­in a nation­al park, con­tact the park’s region­al duty offi­cer.

They will be able to pro­vide assis­tance, and if addi­tion­al vet­eri­nary care is need­ed, will like­ly have the cor­rect con­tacts for the situation.

If it’s out­side of a nation­al park

If you find a native, injured, ani­mal out­side of a park, con­tact a local wildlife res­cue group for help.

The eas­i­est way is to use an inter­net search engine to search by loca­tion and type of animal. 

If it’s a marine mammal

If you find a sick or strand­ed marine mam­mal, includ­ing whales, seals, sea lions and dol­phins, call a region­al duty offi­cer.

Marine mam­mals need spe­cif­ic care and there are impor­tant things you need to know before assist­ing, so it’s always best to phone the experts.

Remem­ber: Res­cued native ani­mals require spe­cialised care and treat­ment to recov­er and be returned to the wild. Per­mits are only suit­able for peo­ple with a good knowl­edge of the ani­mals and how to meet their needs.

For more infor­ma­tion vis­it liv­ing with wildlife, or check out or learn more about res­cu­ing injured or strand­ed wildlife.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Decem­ber 2015 and has been updat­ed with new information.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living