In difficult winter conditions, animals can find it hard to find sufficient food, water, and shelter when it gets frosty. In this part 2 of or three-part winter wildlife series, we will be covering the best ways to keep your favourite animals fed this winter. Click the links if you would like to see the rest of the series covering ‘Top tips for providing water for animals in winter’ and the ‘Top 5 ways to keep your garden wildlife friendly this winter’.
When food is scarce, putting out a small amount of an appropriate treat will help to see the mammals visiting your garden through the winter.
It’s important to not constantly put out large quantities of food each evening for wildlife as you don’t want to make them dependant on this source but helping a small amount can see them through the wintry weather.
Below is a list of the best foods to feed each animal through the winter:
Birds – Birds may find it difficult to find natural foods such as berries, insects, seeds, worms and fruit during this cold season. Therefore, any extra food you can put out will help. Provide a range of seeds, suet balls, mealworms, berries or chopped up fruits (apples, pears, plums) fresh unsalted peanuts and table scraps (cheese and fruits such as apples and pears.) Garden birds also love dried mealworms or waxworms, which can be bought from bird food suppliers.
Some ground-feeding birds struggle to find food due to frost, so place seeds or fat balls on a wire mesh just off the ground to help them.
Hedgehogs – minced meat, tinned dog/cat food (not fish-based), chopped boiled egg
Squirrels – hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, sunflower seeds, chopped carrot Squirrels do not hibernate, instead they cache food during autumn to eat when food is scarce. Offer them nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, plus some chopped apple, beans, carrots or spinach.
Badgers – Fruit (apples, grapes, pears), peanuts, dried dog food, mealworms Badgers have a tough time finding their favourite food – earthworms – when the ground is frozen. Provide them with lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit.
Small mammals – mixed seeds
Foxes: Put out cheese, boiled potatoes, chicken carcasses, bread and fat scraps at dusk.