Wildlife F.A.Q.s

Frogs at SWT HQ by Stuart BownFrogs at SWT HQ by Stuart Bown

Here you will find the most common questions we are asked about wildlife, along with our answers and any other useful information like help lines or links to further reading. If your question isn’t answered here, please feel free to submit it via email at mail@wildsheffield.com or give us a ring on 0114 2634335.

 

There's too much frog spawn in my pond. Is there somewhere else I can take some of it?

I would like some frog spawn in my pond. Is it okay to take some from a friend’s pond?

I’ve found an injured (wild) animal. What do I do?

I’ve found a baby bird that’s fallen out of its nest. How can I help?

I’ve found an abandoned baby fox/hedgehog etc. and I’m worried it will die without its parents. What do I do?

I’ve found a dead animal (wild or domestic). What do I do?

I have bats roosting in my house/building. Can I move them on?

What do I do with a live butterfly or moth in my house in winter?

Why do wasps exist?

I have Japanese knotweed growing in my garden. How can I get rid of it?

I’ve seen Japanese knotweed growing on a green space nearby. Who do I contact?

There seem to be a lot of ants in my garden. Will they cause any problems?

There are large flying ants all over my garden. Do they sting or cause any other kind of harm?

I want to encourage hedgehogs into my garden. What can I feed them?

If moths get into my house, will they eat my clothes and curtains?

What can I do about slugs and snails in my garden?

Every August/September my house fills up with huge spiders. Where are they coming from and what can I do about them?

I’ve seen a mouse in my house/garden. How can I tell if it’s a house mouse or a wood mouse?

Should I stop feeding the birds in spring? I’m concerned about the babies choking on the feed.

 

There's too much frog spawn in my pond. Is there somewhere else I can take some of it?

There isn’t really any such thing as ‘too much’ frog spawn. The vast majority of the spawn will be predated by fish, birds, and insects, and even after it has hatched into tadpoles, heavy predation from the above (and even other tadpoles) mean that very, very few frogs will be born of all that spawn. So really, the more there is, the better. Moving frog spawn (or indeed anything from one pond or body of water to another) can have deadly consequences for the amphibians we know and love, spreading disease such as Ranavirus and Chitrid fungus. There is always the chance of spreading hugely invasive water plants as well.

 

I would like some frog spawn in my pond. Is it okay to take some from a friend’s pond?

Give your pond time to settle and gather its own wildlife naturally. Ways to help this happen are to ensure that the edges of the pond have a slope to allow wildlife to easily get in and out, and plant around the pond to give them cover from predators. You’ll soon find your pond is a hop-py home for all kinds of wildlife.
Moving frog spawn (or indeed anything from one pond or body of water to another) can have deadly consequences for the amphibians we know and love, spreading disease such as Ranavirus and Chitrid fungus. There is always the chance of spreading hugely invasive water plants as well. For good ideas on making your pond frog-friendly, visit Froglife

 

I’ve found an injured (wild) animal. What do I do?

If necessary, remove the animal from any immediate harm, e.g. traffic, and call South Yorkshire Animal Rescue 0114 2349656 or the RSPCA on 0300 1234555 for further advice.

 

I’ve found a baby bird that’s fallen out of its nest. How can I help?

For the most part, baby birds have not been abandoned by their parents, and there’s a good chance they’re waiting for mum or dad to reappear with a nice tasty worm. By interfering, you may discourage the parents from returning or continuing to look after their young, so wherever possible, leave them be. If there is an immediate threat (cars, a circling cat) you can (wearing gloves) put the bird in a safer place. Just keep it as close as possible to where you found it so that the parents can find it. .
If the baby bird is without feathers or clearly hasn’t fledged yet, place it back in its nest (wearing gloves). It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the nest, and if the parents haven’t returned after an hour, phone your local rescue centre: South Yorkshire Animal Rescue on 0114 2349656 or the RSPB 01767 693690 for further advice.

 

I’ve found an abandoned baby fox/hedgehog etc. and I’m worried it will die without its parents. What do I do?

Most young animals will not have been abandoned by their parents, but will be having a happy little explore while their parents are out foraging. By interfering (unless there is an immediate danger) you may discourage the parents from returning or continuing to look after their young, so wherever possible, leave them be. If you are convinced that the parents have abandoned the young, try and observe them from a distance for at least 24 hours before calling a rescue centre. Chances are you’ll see a happy reunion. If not, ring South Yorkshire Animal Rescue 0114 2349656 or the RSPCA on 0300 1234555

 

I’ve found a dead animal (wild or domestic). What do I do?

Sheffield City Council has a number for reporting dead animals (0114 2734567), and they will come and remove it. If the animal is a protected species (badger, bat) it’s also a good idea to report it to a conservation group with an interest in that species. For badgers ring the South Yorkshire Badger Group’s 24 hour Badger Helpline: 07722 590184.
For bats ring the Bat Conservation Trust’s Bat Helpline: 0845 1300228
If you feel a crime has been committed, you can contact the South Yorkshire Wildlife Crime Unit on 0114 2963414

 

I have bats roosting in my house/building. Can I move them on?

Bats are a protected species, and it is illegal to move or disturb them. If you need more information about bat roosts in property or nearby trees, visit the Bat Conservation Trust at www.bats.org.uk
Or if you have any kind of bat emergency, ring the Bat Conservation Trust’s Bat Helpline on 0845 1300228

 

What do I do with a live butterfly or moth fluttering about in my house in winter?

The best thing to do with butterflies found in your property in the winter months is to move them to an outhouse, shed or garage, where they will find a cosy corner and go back to sleep. They will not survive being placed directly outdoors.

 

Why do wasps exist?

Wasps have an important part to play in the ecosystem, keeping down garden pests while acting as food for other kinds of wildlife.
They become a ‘nuisance’ at the end of summer when kicked out of the nest by their queen, from whom they’ve been receiving sweet food, and go looking for a replacement. They particularly love rotting fruit, but anything sweet will do, hence the attempts to eat your ice cream and drink your beer. Swatting and flapping at them only irritates the wasps and amuses onlookers, so stay calm and try moving sedately away from a particularly bothersome one.

 

I have Japanese knotweed growing in my garden. How can I get rid of it?

Japanese knotweed is a controlled substance. It is illegal to remove it from the place where it is growing, as it spreads easily and rapidly from rhizomes. Glyphosates are needed to kill Japanese knotweed, and application needs to be done in a specific manner over a period of time. It’s best to get guidance on dealing with this invasive plant. For more information, have a look at Sheffield City Council’s website 9www.sheffield.gov.uk), which has a factsheet on Japanese knotweed and how to deal with it. Another good source of advice is the Environment Agency: www.environment-agency.gov.uk

 

I’ve seen Japanese knotweed growing on a green space nearby. Who do I contact?

Sheffield City Council provides a fact sheet on their website about Japanese knotweed, including advice on who to call if you see it growing somewhere. This is an excerpt from that factsheet. To see the whole thing, visit www.sheffield.gov.uk
The responsibility for the control of Japanese Knotweed lies with the land owner or the tenant.

  • If the Japanese Knotweed is in a park please ring 273 4146
  • If the Japanese Knotweed is in a woodland please ring 273 4138
  • If the Japanese Knotweed is in the garden of a privately rented or owned property it is the land owners responsibility
  • If the Japanese Knotweed is in the garden of a local authority property please ring your local area Sheffield Homes Office
  • If the Japanese Knotweed is on Council land but not in a park or woodland, please ring 273 4567

 

There seem to be a lot of ants in my garden. Will they cause any problems?

Ants will often build nests in your garden, particularly under patio stones, rockeries or in walls but cannot cause any structural damage to your property. Ants will occasionally enter homes, but if the nest is significantly far enough from your house this is very unlikely. Ants are extremely interesting social insects and help clear dead insects and aphids from your garden. If they aren’t entering your house, our advice is to leave them to it!

 

There are large flying ants all over my garden. Do they sting or cause any other kind of harm?

In late summer, some ants grow wings and leave the colony to start new ones. Despite their size, these are totally harmless and cannot bite or sting.

 

I want to encourage hedgehogs into my garden. What can I feed them?

Hedgehogs are good to have in your garden as they eat slugs, snails and other garden pests. Contrary to common belief, they should not be fed bread and milk as this upsets their digestive system, but they are partial to cat food.

 

If moths get into my house, will they eat my clothes and curtains?

Contrary to popular belief, moths generally do not eat clothes or household fabrics. Like butterflies, moths are pollinators of flowers and do not have chewing mouth parts only a tongue to suck nectar. Of over 2000 species of moths found in UK, only around 4 of these are classed as ‘clothes moths’ but these will not lay their eggs on clean or synthetic fabrics and their larvae are more likely to feed on the fluff and debris behind the radiator, or other places you can’t get with the vacuum cleaner. Clothes moths are small bullet shaped species, always brown with black flecks and occasionally with a white head. Any moth not fitting this description or larger than your little finger nail is not a clothes moth and should be let out of the house to pollinate your garden flowers!

 

What can I do about slugs and snails in my garden?

Slugs and snails can be annoying pests in the garden, but The Wildlife Trust does not recommend the use of slug pellets which can harm other animals which feed on them such as hedgehogs and birds. Planting strong smelling herbs deters slugs and snails, and if you design your garden with wildlife in mind, the frogs, toads, birds and small mammals you attract will naturally keep the slug and snail population down. For more information on wildlife gardening, email or ring us for a copy of the Wildlife Trusts’ Guide to Wildlife Gardening.

 

Every August/September my house fills up with huge spiders. Where are they coming from and what can I do about them?

You’re most likely talking about the common house spider Tegenaria duellica, those large brown spiders you find in your bath, sink, and pretty much everywhere in late summer. The ones you’re seeing tend to be the males, sexually active at this time of year, and out on the hunt for a mate. They haven’t in fact ‘come from’ anywhere, but live generally unseen in your house all year long.
If finding them in your bath or sink in the morning is a case of too many legs before coffee, pop a towel or dishcloth on the side of the bath/sink before you go to bed so that it’s possible for the spiders to climb back out well before you give each other a morning fright.
They’re harmless to humans, and they do deal with flies and other pests in your house, so give them a wave or a wide berth as you walk past, and leave them to it.

 

I’ve seen a mouse in my house/garden. How can I tell if it’s a house mouse or a wood mouse?

Wood mice, otherwise known as long tailed field mice, very rarely come into houses, although they will sometimes nest under patio stones or in garden walls. House mice are generally brown all over, like a small rat, but a wood mouse is a more orangey colour and is pale underneath.

 

Should I stop feeding the birds in spring? I’m concerned about the babies choking on the feed.

The common misconception is that birds should not be fed seeds and nuts in the spring because they will feed them to their young and choke them. In fact, birds benefit from being fed all year round, and most certainly in spring when they are running themselves ragged caring for their young. If providing peanuts, put them in wire mesh feeders to prevent whole peanuts being fed to the young. Also make sure the peanuts come from a reputable bird food supplier.