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Water for wildlife after bushfires

Tips for safely providing water

22 February 2024

After a bushfire, providing water to wildlife is likely a safer way to provide help, than feeding wildlife. This carries less risk of unintended consequences. (read more on the pros and cons of feeding wildlife after a fire here)

However, please only engage in wildlife watering if you are able and prepared to actively monitor these water sources for invasive species and predators, and maintain their cleanliness.

How should I build the water station?

The NSW government provided guides for safe water stations for different types of wildlife after the Black Summer fires. Those designs are available below:

How long is water helpful?

NSW govt advice is that water can be provided until a reliable source of water is running in creeks and rivers for at least a month, dams are at least 20% full, and seasonal flowers or fruit are available for nectar feeders as a source of moisture.

Mt Cole Creek passing just west of the township of Warrak
Mt Cole Creek passing just west of the township of Warrak

More advice on design and placement:

RSPCA guidelines for providing water:

  • Place several containers of water in covered, shady areas away from humans and pets and at least 50m from public roads.
  • Place the water containers at different heights, including in trees, to help animals avoid predators, and space them at least 500m from each other.
  • Place the water containers on a stable surface to avoid spilling.
  • Try to ensure the water container can easily be cleaned and disinfected
  • Change the water daily, if possible, to keep it clean.
  • Do not add any additives in the water as this can cause disease.
  • Make sure the container is shallow to avoid small animals from drowning, and place sticks and twigs inside to help them climb out if they fall in.

Victorian State Government advice: Water for wildlife should be delivered in a bowl or container that they can freely access. Large containers, pools and tanks should be equipped with branches and draped with hessian or fabric on the edge to ensure animals can climb out if they fall in.

NSW State Government advice:

  • Use containers or water dispensers put in the shade, at a range of heights including in trees.
  • Use strong containers to avoid collapse with a stable rock or stick in them to give safe access out of the water for birds and reptiles.
  • Use firm surfaces to put the containers on, so they don't tip if a heavy animal tries to use it.
  • Use a cleared area with shade to allow nervous wildlife to watch out for predators and keep cool.

Author profile picture

Elia Pirtle

Landcare Facilitator and Communications Officer