Survival tips for Sidmouth's garden wildlife

SPARE a thought for garden wildlife out in the cold this Christmas.

SPARE a thought for garden wildlife out in the cold this Christmas.

The RSPCA provides the following tips to ensure Sidmouth's garden visitors survive the winter after seeing an increase in the number of hedgehogs admitted to its wildlife centres during the recent cold snap.

Hedgehogs hibernate between November and mid to late March so you can help by leaving piles of leaves that you haven't got round to raking up yet, which are perfect places for nests.

Birds may have difficulty finding natural foods, such as berries, insects, seeds, worms and fruit in winter.

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Any alternative food you put out during these cold months will help birds survive until the spring.

Birds love festive left-overs such as crumbled bread, stale cake and biscuits, cheese, cooked rice, and fruit.

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Nuts of all kinds are welcome but make sure they are not sweetened or salted and put in a strong birdfeeder.

Badgers will sleep through much of the most severe weather, although they do not hibernate and will continue nightly forays to enjoy worms and fruit.

However, when the ground is frozen they have a tough time finding food. They will certainly enjoy food like lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit.

Squirrels are always thankful of the offer of nuts over winter, preferably unsweetened and unsalted.

Hazlenuts, walnuts, and almonds are the favourites, and for an extra treat chopped apple, carrots, spinach or green beans.

All animals rely on a good supply of fresh, clean water during winter - not only to drink but in the case of birds, water to bathe in to keep their feathers in tip-top condition to stay warm and dry.

Ensure water bowls and drinkers are cleaned daily to avoid disease and water is available for mammals at ground level as well as higher up for birds.

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