One of the joys of life is waking up to birdsong. A gentle reminder that every new day is just an opportunity to experience the beauty of being alive. If you’ve ever holidayed at hill stations, or stayed in forest lodgings, then you’d know how intrinsic the sound of animals is to your sense of peace.
In the cities, we have fewer encounters with the wilderness – there’s simply not enough space for them in the concrete jungle. But for the ones who manage to make it a home, life is that much harder in the heat. Native birds, squirrels, our friendly street dogs and cats – we’re so used to seeing them around, and they’re an important part of our ecosystem. Unfortunately, when temperatures go up, these furry creatures are at risk of disappearing.
Here are a few simple ways we can help keep the animals around us safe in the summertime.
Keep water out
Dehydration is the number one cause of illness in the heat. Gather a few inexpensive mud pots and fill them with clean, cool water. You can keep them outside your house or in areas where animals tend to take shelter. Mud pots are affordable, retain the coolness of the water, and won't tip over. Remember to change the water regularly!
For birds, place bowls of water on window sills, balconies, terraces or even in your garden. If space allows for it, consider putting up a permanent bird bath under some shade that can give passing birds a moment of respite.
Look after your gardens
If you have a garden, no matter the size, keeping it green and watered helps create a cool environment for animals to take shelter in. Birds and squirrels will have ample tree cover to live in, and the moist, cool soil will give any four legged friend's paws a comfortable surface to walk on. Often, the cement and tar of our streets cause burns on the pads of animals' paws due to trapping the intense heat of the sun.
For your own loved ones
Got a doggo or kitty at home? Make sure to let them hang out indoors during summers, and that their water bowls are always full and regularly changed. Never leave your dog in the car alone, especially in the heat - it can cause heat strokes or suffocation. For dogs, you can even give them ice cubes or cucumber and watermelon slices every now and then to give them extra cooling or hydration.
Leave snacks out
Water is number one, but if you can, leave out some food as well. For birds and squirrels, you can hang up a pot or container filled with grains for them to eat. If you have some to spare, you can even spread out some rice or channa on your roof or terrace.
Look before you drive
In the heat, some stray animals might take shelter under cars and parked vehicles as it provides shade; so make sure to check under your vehicle before getting in. This way we can prevent an innocent animal from getting hurt!
It definitely takes effort to be conscious of the animals around us, but by staying alert we can save lives. As much as you can, make sure animals you see outdoors have enough water and shelter. If you find an animal with heat exhaustion or severely ill, contact your local animal-welfare organisation or a veterinarian immediately. Stay with the animal until help arrives to ensure they are taken care of.
Our furry friends are an integral part of our world, and it doesn’t take a lot to give them the care they deserve. Summer is a time of joy, and isn’t joy the sweetest when shared?