CONSIDER WILDLIFE AND PETS IN EXTREME HEAT CONDITIONS

Singing Honeyeater

Singing honeyeater finds shade and water under backyard tree

With more scorching days forecast this week, South Australians are being reminded to take care of pets and native animals as well as the people around them.

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Animal Welfare Manager Dr Deb Kelly said animals were at as much risk of heat exhaustion as humans in hot weather.

“Many of the same strategies we use to keep ourselves cool can apply to animals as well,” she said.

“Keep pets out of the sun and never leave them alone in a car, where temperatures can quickly top 50 degrees. Even leaving the windows down won’t help.

“Reconsider walking dogs during hot weather, because hot footpaths can burn their paws.

“Provide plenty of drinking water in a shaded place, adding large pieces of ice to keep it cool. You can even freeze their food so they can lick it like an ice block.

“Inside, give pets access to rooms with tiled floors, as these will be cooler than carpet.”

Caged birds should be kept in the shade, not disturbed during the day and sprayed with a fine water mist occasionally. Backyard chickens also benefit from having their runs wet down, staying cooler if they can sit on wet ground.

A large umbrella placed over a fishpond can help protect the fish from the sun, and rabbit and guinea pig hutches need to be in a shady place all day. Just because they are in the shade in the morning doesn’t mean they will still be in the shade in the afternoon.

Dr Kelly said many native animals changed their behaviour during extreme heat.

“The ground is cooler than the trees during very hot weather, so you may see koalas on the ground as they look for shade and water,” she said.

“This is quite normal, so unless the animals are obviously injured, or don’t return to the trees at night, there is usually nothing to worry about.

“Koalas don’t normally need to drink, but as the weather warms up, the gum leaves dry out and they need to find other sources.

“That may be a dog’s bowl, a fishpond or even a swimming pool, which puts them at risk of drowning if they can’t climb out.