Wildlife FAQs

Hedgehog in gardenHedgehog by David Kilbey

We get asked lots of interesting questions about all sorts of issues. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions.

Wildlife in the garden

How do I make my garden more wildlife friendly?

Check out the Garden for Wildlife page for lots of advice >>

I have found something I can't identify? Can you help me?

As a first step to identification try searching the web - there are lots of excellent wildlife identification resources out there. The reference section of your local library will also have field guides available.

The Wildlife Helpdesk can help identify wildlife. Please send a photo and description to hdesk@devonwildlifetrust.org or ring 01392 279244 and ask to be put through. The helpdesk is run by volunteers who will get back to you as soon as possible. 

I have an area of woodland/ meadow, can you give me advice on managing it for wildlife?

- Devon Wildlife Consultants, DWT’s commercial arm, provides an advisory service to farmers and landowners to identify the current conservation value of their holding and potential enhancement methods and to advise on any grant schemes available. For further information on how we can help your business, contact 01392 455930 email dwc@devonwildlifetrust.org or visit www.devonwildlifeconsultants.co.uk

I'm worried there is too much frog spawn in my pond. Should I remove some of it?

Sometimes ponds can seem overcrowded with clumps of spawn, or heaving masses of tadpoles. Don’t worry! This is completely natural. It’s the frogs’ way of coping with the fact that large numbers of tadpoles and young frogs die. A female may produce 2,000 eggs (female toads tend to produce about 1,000) and of these only four or five are likely to make it to old age, which in frog terms is probably about four years old. The rest will make up an important part of the diet of a wide range of wildlife including kingfishers, herons, fish, beetle larvae and blackbirds. This high death rate is distressing but totally natural, and it means that you will not be knee-deep in frogs when they all develop.

Do not take spawn to another pond or remove it to the wild. Doing so will only create a vacant niche which may encourage more spawning. Moving frogs to new ponds risks spreading an unpleasant frog disease, red leg, which is now afflicting our frog population. The best thing is to leave the spawn where it is and let nature take its course.

What do I feed local hedgehogs?

Tinned dog or cat food (as long as it’s not fish based), raisins, chopped up boiled eggs and broken up cat biscuits are all suitable for feeding to hedgehogs. Access to fresh water is also very important to hedgehogs and so a shallow dish of water is most welcome though never bread and milk which is sometimes suggested. Milk causes diarrhoea and can make hedgehogs quite ill.   

Our Friends at Vine House Farm even supply a special hedgehog food product! Take a look.

Welfare

I have an injured or sick animal in the garden, what should I do?

Unfortunately the Trust is not able to take injured wildlife. Please contact your local wildlife hospital, or the RSPCA on 08705 555999 or 24hr 0300 1234999. 

For injured hedgehogs ring Prickly Ball Farm, Newton Abbot- 01626 362319

What should I do if I find a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest?

Birds will often leave the nest before they can properly fly, it is part of their development. Feathered baby birds on the ground should be left alone as the parents will be tending to them. Exceptions are swallows, swifts and house martins which can fly straight from the nest. If the bird is in imminent danger (on a road for example) it can be carefully moved a short distance but make sure it is still within hearing distance of it's parents. If you have cats try to keep them indoors. 

If a fledgling is unfeathered or covered in down you can return it to the nest but only if you are sure where it came from. If not and it is healthy contact an expert such as the RSPCA. Unhealthy chicks are sometimes pushed from nests by parents who will concentrate on healthy chicks.

 

Diseases

What is Ash Dieback and what should I do if I suspect a case?

Planning

Where can I find guidance on planning issues?

Find out more about how Devon Wildlife Trust provides a strong voice for wildlife in the planning system and see our advice on how to make your own 'stand' against a planning proposal on the wildlife and planning page

What is DWT's position on...?

Badgers and Bovine TB