Creating a wildlife w IRES WILDLIFE INFORMATION SHEET Rescue Line: (02) 8977 3333 friendly garden Introduction The following points may be useful before setting out to As valuable habitat for our native wildlife decreases, more and more plant a native garden: of our native birds, mammals, reptile and frogs are moving in to ur- • Choose plants like eucalyptus and lemon scented gums that pro- ban areas. The problem is that very few of our urban areas provide a vide food for possums as well as providing food for Flying-foxes suitable habitat for many, if any, of these creatures. in the form of nectar and pollen. • Place possum and bird boxes in a safe high place in your yard. Further problems As you are no doubt aware, the impact that domestic cats and dogs • Place a pond in a sheltered spot to provide water for birds and have on our urban wildlife is significant, not to mention that it is habitat for frogs. caused by introduced predators such as foxes and feral cats. • Provide large rocks and hollow logs for habitats for lizards. • Do not provide artificial foods as this poses a major problem to This impact, combined with the stresses associated with habitat loss, the birds. The diets that we often give them are not suitable and is by no means the only problem facing our wildlife. Competition many health problems can result. Remember, artificial feeding from introduced bird species such as Spotted Turtle Doves and In- can increase the population of the species being fed which will dian Mynahs also decrease both the food and nesting sites available to lead to the displacement of other species in the area and sharing our smaller native species such as Wrens and Robins. of bird feeders quickly spreads disease. Finally, birds may become dependant on artificial feed. If this feed is stopped the animals Food for Thought may not be able to fend for themselves. There are several species of birds with which most people would be • Allow mulch to build up as this will not only decrease the need familiar such as Rainbow Lorikeets, Magpies and Noisy Miners. The for water but also provide feeding opportunities and nesting ma- reason for these species being so abundant is that they are often fed terial for ground birds and small mammals. artificial foods by well meaning people. • Decrease grassed areas as they are favoured by large aggressive ground birds like magpies and noisy miners. The effects of artificial feeding are twofold. Firstly, they do not pro- • Keep cats and dogs secure at night. vide a suitable diet for the birds and health problems such as calcium deficiencies and “runner syndrome” (a feather condition common in • Make sure cats in your area have collars and noisy bells. Rainbow Lorikeets) are becoming more and more common. • Talk to your neighbours about planting to increase habitat to your local area. The second problem caused by artificial feeding is that it causes an increase in the population of the species being fed so that they over- SUGGESTED SPECIES LIST whelm other native species. One example of this is the rapid decrease in numbers of the Scaly Breasted Lorikeet. This species is the shy Dwarf Apple, Angophora hispida (N, I); Crimson Bottlebrush, relative of the gregarious Rainbow Lorikeet. The Rainbow Lorikeet has taken great advantage of the artificial feeding provided and has all Callistemon citrinus (N, I, F); Spotted Gum, Eucalypt maculata but eliminated the Scaly Breasted Lorikeet from our urban areas. (N, I, F); Sydney peppermint, Eucalyptus piperita (N, I , F); Tick Bush, Kunzea ambigua (N, I, F); Lemon-scented tea- The other part of the problem is caused by the choice of plants when tree, Leptospermum polygalifolium (N, I ,S); Snow-in-summer, trying to improve the attractiveness of their gardens to native ani- Melaleuca lineariifolia (N, I, S, Sh); Prickly-leaved Paperbark, mals. The showy nectar rich Grevillias and Banksias so favoured by Melaleuca styphelioides (N, I, S, Sh); Sunshine Wattle, Acacia gardeners are having a similar effect to the artificial feed already men- terminalis (S, I); Flax-leaved Wattle, Acacia terminalis (S, I); tioned. The abundance of these plants has led to a dramatic increase Healthy Parrot Heath, Dillwynia retorta (S, I); False Sarsapa- of Rainbow Lorikeets and Noisy Miners in our suburbs. rilla, Hardenbergia violacea (I, S); Heath Leaved Banksia, Banksia ericifolia (S, I, F, Sh): White spider-flower, Grevillea The need for planting cannot be overstated but the natural environ- ment is very complex and an attempt must be made to copy this linearifolia (S, I, F); Willow-leaved Hakea, Hakea salicifolia (F, complexity in our planting. When planning a native garden, remem- I S); Forest Oak, Allocasuarina torulosa (S, I); Common Hop ber that birds and animals use plants for many things such as food, Bush, Dodonaea triquetra (I, S). shelter and breeding sites. Plants need not actually provide food di- rectly but can attract insects which in turn provide food for birds. (Key: S= Seed, I=Insects, F=Foliage, Sh=Shelter, N=Nectar) Please remember WIRES is a registered charity and relies upon the generosity of the public to continue our work. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible. w IRES WILDLIFE INFORMATION SHEET Chemicals can be bad news for native animals Rescue Line: (02) 8977 3333 These days many of us rarely think twice about using chemicals around ANTS the house and garden. It is so convenient to buy the latest insecticides Spraying the nest with a mix of eucalyptus oil and water, or pouring or snail baits with little thought of how these chemicals might affect methylated spirits and boiling water into the hole of an ant mound, our waterways, soil or the native animals that inhabit our backyards. can help control ants. Many snail baits now include an ingredient that deters domestic pets and wildlife from eating them, but they don’t deter birds and COCKROACHES lizards that eat the snails that have digested the baits. The poison is Place lard in an empty margarine container and place in areas where indirectly passed on. And if all the birds and lizards are killed off, cockroaches have been sighted. The cockroaches can get into the there will be no more natural predators for the snails and their numbers containers but not out. will increase. You’ll find you have more snails than you began with! Wherever possible seek safe, non-chemical, alternatives for SNAILS controlling pests in your backyard and when selecting your cleaning Place milk or beer in the bottom of an empty margarine container products. Many natural products are just as affective and often are and set into the ground so the top of the container is level with the much cheaper than store bought alternatives! soil. Snails will climb into the container and get stuck. Alternatively, patrol the garden after dark with a torch and collect the snails by Around the house… hand – just be careful where you dispose of them! White vinegar is a wonderful all-purpose cleaner that can be used to clean ceramic tiles in the bathroom, kitchen and toilet. Added to the MICE & RATS washing machine it will also disinfect and whiten whites. Wipe the Be very careful about the way you place baits so that possums and inside of your fridge with it to prevent mildew and pour it down the gliders can’t get to them. Place baits under a wire basket without a sink after a handful of bicarb soda to unblock drains! base – rodents will burrow under the basket, possums and gliders will not. Remember a half-dead mouse is easy pray for a raptor and most In the yard… poisons used to kill rodents will harm birds. Try to prevent rodents The easiest way to get rid of pests in the backyard is to encourage from moving in by keeping your compost heap covered and by their natural predators. Plant native trees and shrubs to attract insect increasing hygiene around the house and yard. If you have a eating birds, and place rocks and hollow logs around the garden to reoccurring problem, a pest control company can rodent proof the attract a variety of lizards (lizards do a great job keeping snails and house. spiders at bay). A pond is not only a lovely feature, but it will also provide a home for frogs, and a source of water for a variety of wildlife. BLUE TONGUE LIZARDS A welcome addition to the garden The most common lizard coming into the Sydney WIRES network is the Eastern Blue-Tongued lizard. This lizard is the largest Australian member of the skink family. Despite their large size, these lizards are non-venomous and completely harmless. Unfortunately, most Blue- Tongues come into care as a result of domestic animal attack, usually dogs, or they are hit by cars while sunning themselves on the road. As well as this, these lizards favour long grass and are often injured by people whilst mowing lawns or trimming their edges. The Blue-Tongue is a welcome addition to a garden. These lizards feed on snails, beetles, spiders and will also eat some plant material (strawberries are a favourite!). To protect Blue-Tongues living in your yard, provide them with bits of pipe or a hollow log, or rock mounds, where they can hide from predators. Blue tongues tend to come out during the middle of the day, when the sun is strongest, so this would be the best time to keep an eye on your dog or cat. If a Blue-Tongue lizard is found injured, grasp it around the head and shoulders with one hand, while the other hand steadies the tail and hind legs. The animal should be placed in a box in a quiet, dark place until it can be placed with a reptile carer. PLEASE NOTE: All native animals are protected and it is an offence to kill any native animal including snakes and lizards. You will find that the old saying “they are more afraid of you than you are of them” is true, and if you do en- counter a reptile in your backyard, keep your domestic pets away and give it some space, it is likely to move off when it is ready. If you would rather keep snakes out of the backyard, clear away any piles of wood or rubbish you may have lying around and keep your garden clean and tidy. If they have no where to hide, they’ll go elsewhere. Please remember WIRES is a registered charity and relies upon the generosity of the public to continue our work. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible.