October is a significant month for wildlife. For mammals, amphibians and birds, there’s less invertebrate food around, as snails, caterpillars and other critters hunker down for winter. This means they spend more energy looking for food, just when they need it the most.
Hedgehogs are fattening up ahead of going into hibernation – they need to be large enough to survive several months without food, so leaving meat-based cat or dog food out for them can make all the difference. Birds don’t hibernate, so need to consume enough calories per day to survive each night. Most reptiles will already have entered hibernation, while frogs, toads and newts will be well on their way.
Some species of bee and butterfly may still be on the wing, emerging on sunny days to feed from late-summer flowers. Providing food is therefore a key October job.
Elsewhere in the garden we should be creating habitats for hibernating wildlife, and leaving areas alone to avoid disturbing anything. Think of your garden as not belonging to you for the next few months – take a back seat and leave the tidying until spring. The wildlife needs it now.