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In this day and age maintaining habitat for all local wildlife is vitally important. There are a variety of simple and easy ways we can be improving biodiversity in our gardens, making them wildlife friendly, as well as helping bushfire affected animals when in need.
Creating a water source in your garden, creates a host of ways for you to attract a variety of different wildlife. Toads, frogs and newts will use water as a breeding ground, or for shelter. Butterflies can gain valuable minerals and salts, and birds will use a water source to bathe or remove parasites.
Ponds are a sure fast way to create a natural habitat for a variety of different species. Mammals, insect life and Amphibians will be drawn to it, not simply to hydrate but to either make new homes, or find new prey.
Bird baths work well, but naturally will only attract bird species. Be sure to keep bird baths clean as birds will excrete into them and over time this will attract the wrong insects. An unkept bird bath can pass on bad diseases.
The right types of insects can have huge benefits in your garden. Lady bugs can eat between 500-5000 Aphids in their lifetime. Any pest nearly always has a predator. Maintaining a habitat for these predators means pest problems won't be nearly as bad. If you’re wanting to attract a huge variety of insect life, a pond is a good first step. What’s needed is somewhere for the insects to call home. Insect hotels are easy to create and are perfect for improving the natural habitat in your garden.
Creating an insect hotel is a piece of cake. The basic premise is providing little nooks and crannies in a piece of wood for insects to find shelter or lay their eggs. This can be done by drilling into a piece of wood with different sized drill bits. Like in the picture above. You can choose to put some time and effort into fitting your garden's aesthetic, although it’s aesthetic won’t have any effect on the bugs.
A water source as well as insect hotels are great steps to making your garden reptile friendly. Food sources for our reptilian friends are ticked, the next step is providing adequate shelter.
Hollow logs are perfect for reptile life. No dog, cat, or bird can reach them and they make the perfect homes for any lizard. Planting small shrubs as well as wood chips can make the general area of your garden quite attractive to any reptilian life. It’s all about creating an area that makes them feel safe and sheltered from predators.
Semi flat stones or rocks that receive sun for the most part of the day can also improve the chances of making your garden reptile friendly. Be sure to place the sun bathing area somewhere close to shelter. If a predator does attack, our lizard friend can quickly scurry to safety.
After a bushfire, it can take several months for the bush to bounce back. This can mean starvation is a real risk for local wildlife that have had their habitats destroyed. While it’s not recommended to regularly feed wildlife, if you live near a bushfire zone. Providing sanctuary for the first couple weeks after a bushfire can save wildlife lives.
If you’re close to a fire affected area, there could be a large number of displaced animals looking for new habitar. Leaving a bowl of water out can definitely help, just make sure they have a way of getting out if they fall in.
In normal times most animals will keep their distance from pools, in fire season they may be desperate for water. Wildlife drowning in pools isn’t uncommon. Either keep a fence around the pool or provide plenty of points to climb out if they fall in.
If you’re planning on creating an ecosystem, you’ve got to keep any cats or dogs out of reach. According to a recent study cats kill 1.5 billion native animals every year. Dogs are far easier to keep out of the garden, a simple fence will suffice. On the hand, cats are a far bigger problem. I own a cat but it's an indoor cat that spends little time outside. My only recommendation is if you own a cat to keep it indoors. There’s always the problem of a neighbor’s or feral cat entering your little wildlife sanctuary, it’s a risk that can’t entirely be avoided.
Tristan is a garden and wildlife enthusiast. He runs the website Sydney Gardeners and is always looking to share his knowledge in the garden.
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