During the hotter months, when we experience high temperatures several days in a row, many of our native animals start to feel it. They will feel exhausted, dehydrated and confused. Heat stress can cause organ damage if not treated and hot surfaces such as tin roofing can cause skin damage to feet.

How can I identify a heat-stressed animal?

Generally, heat-stressed animals will:

  • appear lethargic, unresponsive or confused
  • birds may pant and open their beak; hold their wings out away from their body.
  • possums may come to the ground during the day
  • flying foxes hang lower in trees than usual and often “clump” together in the tree
  • at its worst, animals may suffer convulsions or lose consciousness

How can you help?

Provide animals with hydration by putting out a bowl of water:

  • place a shallow dish of water with some sticks, bark and/or rocks leaning out of the water – this will give animals a way out if they fall in
  • place the dish in a safe place away from cats, dogs and roadways
  • place it in the shade – use an umbrella or near a tree – check it regularly to ensure it is still shaded
  • regularly check the water level and top it up if necessary.

If you find an animal approaching your bowl, keep calm and observe from a distance.

What do I do if I find a heat-stressed animal?

If you find an animal (except flying foxes and bats) that is suffering from heat stress it may need urgent attention by a vet. If you feel comfortable:

  • wrap the animal in a towel or blanket, secure it in an appropriate carrier (ventilated container, cat cage etc)
  • note the exact location where you found the animal so it can be returned
  • take the animal to your nearest vet
  • the vet will assess and determine if care is required or simply an overnight visit to get well again.

A heat-stressed bat or flying fox will need the attention of a vaccinated rescuer. Call a rescue organisation for assistance.

If you need assistance with a heat-stressed animal, please call a rescue organisation for guidance.