Britain’s long cold spell is threatening ever greater numbers of animals, birds and insects. The length of the current cold spell is unprecedented, with temperatures are unlikely to return to their average level until the end of April. By that time, a great deal of harm could have been done to the nation’s wildlife.
A report in The Observer warns that the freezing weather is particularly affecting creatures that are already struggling to survive the loss of their habitats and changes in climate, including:
- Hedgehogs that are still hibernating. “The weather is not yet warm enough to wake them,” said Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the Hedgehog Preservation Society. “Usually they would be up and about by now. The problem is that the longer a hedgehog remained asleep, the weaker it gets and the less energy it has to restore itself to wakefulness. In general, the longer the cold weather lasts, the greater the number of animals that will not wake up at all. Hedgehogs that have already woken up are having a hard time finding any food.
- Seabirds along the east coast are also badly affected, struggling to catch fish in the current stormy conditions. Puffins, guillemots, razorbills, cormorants and gulls are all affected.
- Owls and small birds, such as goldcrests, long-tailed tits and wrens, which mainly feed on small insects, are finding the current cold weather very tricky.
- Frogs have spawned only for their ponds to have frozen over, while many plants and insects are emerging late, which has a knock-on effect on species that feed on them.
- Butterflies wake-up in April and, if it is still freezing, that could have very serious consequences for their ability to get food.
The RSPB says everyone can help by making sure their bird feeders are regularly topped up, and The Hedgehog Preservation Society recommends that nature lovers leave plentiful water supplies and food, either meaty cat or dog meals or specialist hedgehog food.