What will wildlife do?

Wildlife exposed to prolonged heat often display a range of symptoms and can appear lethargic, disoriented or unresponsive, so it's important to take care when helping them.

Tree-dwelling and nocturnal wildlife such as possums and koalas may be seen on the ground in search of water if suffering from heat stress, while birds will often pant and stretch their wings to cool down.

Grey-headed flying-foxes are particularly prone to heat stress. They typically flap their wings and move down lower in the trees to escape heat from direct sunlight.

How can I help?

Members of the community can assist wildlife during days of extreme heat by placing bowls of water out around your garden to help keep them hydrated. Use the garden hose to spray mist into trees and shrubs to create cooler niches that they can use to escape the heat.

If you come across small wildlife such as possums or birds that appear lethargic, non-responsive or sick, using protecting gloves, pick the animal up using a towel or cloth and place it in a well-ventilated, cool container on a damp towel. Provide a small bowl of water for it to drink.

You can also gently spray the animal with room temperature water to cool it down. Avoid placing any further stress on the animal by staying quiet and keeping children and pets away.

If it is a larger animal such as a kangaroo, koala or wombat, you should not touch or handle it for your own safety.  Under no circumstances should you touch or handle a flying-fox as they can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Contact a wildlife rehabilitation organisation, vet or Wildlife Shelter or Foster Carer immediately for further assistance.

Further information

For further information or to seek advice or assistance for wildlife suffering from heat stress, contact your local vet, a licensed wildlife shelter or rehabilitation organisation. Contact details for a wildlife rehabilitation organisations can be found here.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet - wildlife and heat stress (DOCX, 1.7 MB)
Fact sheet - wildlife and heat stress (PDF, 426.3 KB)

Page last updated: 17/01/19