Wildlife Frequently Asked Questions

Wildlife FAQs

Hedgehog. Photo, Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hill Photography

We get asked lots of questions about all sorts of issues

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions...

Wildlife in the garden

How do I make my garden more wildlife friendly?

Large or small, lawn or courtyard, our gardens provide a patchwork of green spaces for wildlife. There are an estimated 16 million gardens in the UK and the way these are cared for can make a big difference to wildlife. 

Find out how to make your garden more wildlife friendly

Cricklepit bug hotel and garden

I have found something I can't identify? Can you help me?

As a first step to identification try searching the web - there are lots of excellent wildlife identification resources out there. The reference section of your local library will also have field guides available.

Our Wildlife Helpdesk can help identify wildlife. Please send a photo and description of what, where and when to hdesk@devonwildlifetrust.org or ring 01392 279244 and ask to be put through. Our Wildlife Helpdesk is run by volunteers who will get back to you as soon as possible. 

I have an area of woodland/ meadow, can you give me advice on managing it for wildlife?

Devon Wildlife Consultants, DWT’s commercial arm, provides an advisory service to farmers and landowners to identify the current conservation value of their holding and potential enhancement methods and to advise on any grant schemes available. 

For further information on how we can help and to get a cost estimate, contact 01392 455930 email dwc@devonwildlifetrust.org or visit www.devonwildlifeconsultants.co.uk

I'm worried there is too much frog spawn in my pond. Should I remove some of it?

Sometimes ponds can seem overcrowded with clumps of spawn, or heaving masses of tadpoles. Don’t worry! This is completely natural. It’s the frogs’ way of coping with the fact that large numbers of tadpoles and young frogs will never make it to adulthood.

A female may produce 2,000 eggs (female toads tend to produce about 1,000) and of these only four or five are likely to make it to breeding age. Those that make it can live to around four years of age. The rest will make up an important part of the diet of a wide range of wildlife including kingfishers, herons, fish, beetle larvae and blackbirds. This high death rate means that you will not be knee-deep in frogs!

Don't be tempted to take spawn to another pond or remove it to the wild. Doing so will only create a vacant niche which may encourage more spawning. Moving frogs to new ponds also risks spreading an unpleasant frog disease, red leg, which is now afflicting our frog populations. The best thing is to leave the spawn where it is and let nature take its course. Happy frog watching!

What do I feed local hedgehogs?

Tinned dog or cat food (as long as it’s not fish based), raisins, chopped up boiled eggs and broken up cat biscuits are all suitable for feeding to hedgehogs. Access to fresh water is also very important to hedgehogs, so a shallow dish of water is most welcome. Never be tempted to put out bread and milk - they find these difficult to digest. 

Our friends at Vine House Farm supply a special hedgehog homes and hedgehog food among everything else you need for a great wildlife garden! 


I have an injured or sick animal in the garden, what should I do?

Unfortunately we do not have the trained staffed or the specialist equipment to come and collect or receive injured wildlife. Please contact your local wildlife hospital, or the RSPCA on 08705 555999 or 24hr 0300 1234999. 

For injured or underweight hedgehogs contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/found-a-hedgehog/ , 01584 890801 who can advise and pass on contact details for hedgehog rehabilitators. 

What should I do if I find a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest?

Birds will often leave the nest before they can properly fly, it is part of their development.

Feathered baby birds on the ground should be left alone as the parents will be tending to them. Exceptions are swallows, swifts and house martins which can fly straight from the nest. If the bird is in imminent danger (on a road for example) it can be carefully moved a short distance but make sure it is still within hearing distance of it's parents. If you have cats try to keep them indoors. 

If a fledgling is unfeathered or covered in down you can return it to the nest but only if you are sure where it came from. If not, and if the bird is healthy, contact an expert such as the RSPCA. Unhealthy chicks are sometimes pushed from nests by parents who will concentrate on healthy chicks.

Diseases and alien species

What is Ash Dieback and what should I do if I suspect a case?

Ash dieback is a devastating disease which is predicted to severely affect or kill more than 90% of ash trees. The disease is now becoming widespread in Devon. It's likely to have a dramatic impact on Devon’s landscapes effecting woodlands and hedges.

The disease, also known as Chalara is caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (the fungus was previously called Chalara fraxinea, hence the name of the disease.) which affects the vascular system of ash trees, inhibiting the tree’s ability to draw nutrients into its upper branches.

Young ash trees are killed rapidly by the disease. Older trees often resist the disease for longer, but succumb with prolonged exposure.

Learn more about Ash dieback

What to do if you suspect you've found an Asian hornet

The first confirmed report of an Asian hornet nest in Devon came in 2017. This was followed by a further confirmed case in Cornwall in 2018.

Asian hornets have the potential to be extremely harmful to European honey bees, and to other colony-living insects within the UK. 

Asian hornets are not easily confused with any other hornet species. They have a dark brown or black velvety body and yellow tipped legs. They are smaller than the native European hornet.

Devon Wildlife Trust recommends that people be aware of the threat of Asian hornets and they should immediately follow official guidelines on suspected cases. This means not destroying the nest and instead carefully photographing the insect without disturbing the nest and submitting an on-line sighting report to the GB Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS).


Where can I find guidance on planning issues?

Find out more about how Devon Wildlife Trust provides a strong voice for wildlife in the planning system and see our advice on how to make your own 'stand' against a planning proposal on the wildlife and planning page, link below. 

Wildlife and planning

What is DWT's position on...?

Badgers and Bovine TB

Devon Wildlife Trust opposes the government’s badger culling programme because our charity is committed to protecting wildlife and makes decisions on conservation land management based on the best available scientific information - there is robust evidence that culling badgers will make the problem worse.

Find out the latest on the badger cull

Two badgers sat on a log in a thicket

Photo, Hugh Clark