We remind bank holiday gardeners to be on the look out for wildlife

Hedgehog © RSPCA

23.05.14

We’re warning gardeners to tread carefully this bank holiday to avoid disturbing or harming the wildlife which may be living in their gardens.

Every year we receive calls about wild animals with distressing and often fatal gardening related injuries which in most cases are completely avoidable. With gardeners likely to make the most of the long weekend we are urging caution.

Quick checks for wild animals and their nests in the long grass or foliage could be all that is needed to prevent young animals from being abandoned and save others from losing a limb – or life.

Recent wildlife casualties

Cases in past years include:

  • a toad with its hind legs chopped off by a strimmer
  • a hedgehog burnt in pampas grass clearance
  • a blackbird speared by a garden fork
  • a toad stuck in a watering can.

Our senior wildlife scientific officer, Adam Grogan said:

“Unfortunately these casualties are not unusual at this time of year. Every year we see cases like this – some of them pretty distressing.

 

“Hedgehogs are one of the most affected as they curl up into a ball when they sense danger and can be hard to spot in the grass. We also get frogs, toads and snakes with horrendous injuries caused by strimmers.

 

“Overgrown hedges are often nesting sites for birds so it is worth checking to see if there are any nests before cutting them back.

 

“May bank holiday weekend normally encourages some very enthusiastic gardeners to get out and sort out their back yards.

 

“But however eager people feel, we urge a little bit of caution. Taking two minutes to check for wildlife before strimming, mowing or cutting could save an animal’s life or prevent its nest from being destroyed. You never know what might be hiding away in the undergrowth.”

Help avoid injuries to wildlife

Ways to avoid such injuries include:

  • avoiding cutting hedges whist birds are nesting
  • checking for birds or their nests before clearing scrub
  • thinking about if you need to cut brambles or trees, or if it can wait
  • keeping drains and swimming pools covered
  • removing sports and garden netting and storing it in a safe place when not in use

It is also worth keeping some areas of the garden wild and untidy as many animals rely on leaf piles, compost heaps and even weeds for nesting and food. Frogs and toads like overgrown ponds and tidying them now could disturb their eggs or newly hatched tadpoles.

Found an injured wild animal?

If you find an injured wild animal, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then contact us on 0300 1234 999, or take it to a nearby vet or wildlife rehabilitator.

If possible, contain the animal before calling – read our advice on what to do with injured wild animals.