Garden stories and tips

Creatures of the night

Do you know what animals are visiting your garden after dark? The answers may surprise you.

Council staff have conducted motions sensor camera surveys throughout many reserves in Moorabool Shire and their findings show that even reserves in the center of our small towns provide important habitat for many native species - many of which you won't see during the day.

For example, the surveys showed that Paddock Creek Reserve, in the center of Gordon, supports a sizable colony of sugar gliders that were very keen to have their photos taken.

When you're planning your garden, remember that even gardens in town have an important role to play in supporting our native wildlife, and it's not just the animals that you see during the day that are benefiting. Who knows what other creatures of the night also call your garden home.

Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife

Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife is a joint initiative by the RSPCA and Zoos Victoria. The program raises awareness of the threats to cats and wildlife when cats are able to roam freely.

It aims to to build a community of cat owners who have the tools to provide their cat with the longest and happiest lives possible by keeping them safe and enriched at home. It helps cat owners with all aspects of cat care through an informative blog with hacks designed to keep cats entertained, healthy and happy indoors.

To find out more about this program, and to join the cat caring community, visit the link below:

Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife

Cat alley - Part of the Melbourne Zoo 'Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife' exhibit
Superb fairy-wren (David Whelan)
Rainbow Lorikeets (David Whelan)

What To Do If You Find A Heat Stressed Animal

As summer sets in, our locals sometimes need an extra helping hand. Animals suffer in the heat the same way humans do, and can become dehydrated and heat stressed without adequate shade and water.

How you can help

  • Place water in a shallow container and leave outside in a shady area, or near native plants and trees.

  • Leave some sticks or rocks in the container to ensure smaller animals have an exit route.

  • Do not use metal bowls as they will heat up in the sun and may cause animals to burn their feet. Additionally, don’t use deep buckets as small animals may not be able to climb out.

  • Mist your garden with a hose to create cool nooks for wildlife.

  • Keep your pets safely inside, where they can be comfortable and won’t distress wildlife.

How to recognise a heat-stressed animal

  • Heat stressed animals may appear lethargic, unresponsive or disorientated.

  • Tree-dwelling animals such as possums and koalas may be found on the ground, searching for water during the day.

  • Birds may pant and spread their wings away from their body to try and cool down.

  • Animals may display a loss of balance, or in serious cases, seizures.

What to do if you find a heat-stressed animal

  • Touching or handling can be stressful for a wild animal, so try to keep this to a minimum.

  • If you find a small animal such as a ringtail possum or bird, use protective gloves to pick the animal up and place it in a well ventilated box in a cool, dark environment, away from children and pets.

  • Lay the animal on a damp towel and gently mist it with room temperature water without soaking the animal.

  • Do not expose the animal to rapid changes in temperature, instead try to cool it down gradually.

  • If the animal is unable to drink, you can try to slowly drip water onto its lips or beak using an eyedropper.

  • If the animal recovers within a few hours, you can try to release it at the same location it was found.

  • Do not approach snakes, flying foxes or large animals such as kangaroos, koalas or wombats. Contact one of the following wildlife organisations, the nearest veterinarian or your local RSPCA for assistance.

  • If the animal is injured, unconscious or does not recover after a few hours, take it to a vet or wildlife hospital if safe to do so.

Ballarat Botanic Gardens

The Ballarat Botanic Gardens has a small section of indigenous plants that are suitable for local gardens. The garden is located about halfway along the Gillies Street boundary. The other place to visit while you are in Ballarat is the North Gardens Wetlands, not far from the Botanic Gardens and across the road from Lake Wendouree.

Australian Native Botanic Gardens

If you're looking for inspiration for your wildlife garden, why not take a look at the Australian native botanic gardens in Cranbourne. These gardens are large-scale and take the use of native plants to the next level.

They are a beautiful place to see native plants and smart design used to create a sense of place. They create areas of play, relaxation and exploration; all the while providing the local wildlife (including southern brown bandicoots) habitat and resources.

Entry is free and the kids will love the nature themed play spaces.

Melton Botanic Gardens

Many people are surprised that there is a botanic garden in Melton. The gardens are run by a Friends Group that have a high level of skill and enthusiasm for plants.

They specialize in growing smaller eucalypts and Australian and South African plants that require less water. If you live in Bacchus Marsh, which is drier than the west of the Shire, these gardens are well worth a visit.

There is quite a large area to walk around including some lakes and many of the plants are labelled. If you like bird watching, take your binoculars as there are lots of birds to see. You may also like to take a picnic as there is a lot to see.

Darley Native Gardens

This public garden which is located beside the Darley oval in Bacchus Marsh, is planted out with many colourful native plants. They are mainly ones native to WA but there are some local species.

Lots of honeyeaters are attracted to the display along with wrens and red-rumped parrots.