Frequently Asked Wildlife Questions –

Help Yourself to Advice Here

1.  I’ve found a bat in my house.  What should I do?

If the bat is active and flying around then you should open the windows and doors as wide as possible and the bat will find its way out. If the bat is grounded or injured then it needs specialist help, ring the Bat Conservation Trust helpline on 0845 1300 228 and they will give you advice and will organise for someone to collect the bat.

Bats are wild animals and will try to protect themselves by biting if handled, if you need to pick the bat up make sure you wear thick gloves or use a towel – but it’s best to cover it with a box and wait for the experts. All bats are protected in the UK and it’s illegal to deliberately harm them or destroy their roosts.
For more information see the Bat Conservation Trust website.


2.   I’ve seen a bird/mammal/reptile/insect I’ve never seen before.  What is it?

For birds, try the RSPB site here 

for mammals try the mammal.org site here

for frogs, newts, lizards, snakes try the froglife.org site here

for butterflies try the butterfly-conservation.org site here 

for moths try the butterfly-conservation.org site here 

for other insects try the amentsoc.org site here

…… and if you can’t find it, send us a digital photo at contact@yacwag.org.uk


3.   Is it an otter or a mink?

The default position used to be mink, but nowadays in North Somerset it is just as likely to be otter.  If you get the impression of a large animal it is probably an otter.  As a rule of thumb mink are smaller than the average cat, and otters are significantly larger.  Dog otters can measure up to 4′  long and weigh up to 10kg!

For pictures and further information visit Sussex Otters and scroll down.

For help identifying mammals click here


4.   I’ve found a sick or injured bird. How can I help?

For sick birds fluffed up and hanging around garden feeders, see Garden Bird Health Initiative here  or RSPB site here

You will also find information in the following pdf files;

Garden Bird Health Initiative – Salmonellosis

Garden Bird Health Initiative – Feeding birds

Garden Bird Health Initiative – Trichomonosis


5.    There’s a grass snake in my pond. What should I do?

Grass snakes primarily hunt for amphibians or fish in ponds, canals and reservoirs (though they do not eat large meals very often).    See the froglife.org site here


6.    There’s a bee swarm. Who can I contact?

April to summer is the season for bees to swarm so you may find one set up camp in your garden.  Although a swarm looks and sounds quite alarming they are not dangerous, the bees are only looking for a new home.
If you live in the North Somerset and surrounding areas and want a swarm removed free of charge contact YABeeP on 01934 876275 and they will happily come along and take them away for you.  See the Yatton Area Bee Project


7.    I’ve found a wasp’s nest.  What should I do?

Wasps are more useful than harmful in the garden and don’t normally sting unless they are provoked.  A ‘live and let live’ attitude should prevail.  If you wave your arms around you are more likely to be stung than if you ignore them.  Click here for some fascinating information about the life-cycle of wasps.  If it does become necessary to destroy a nest you need to speak to a professional who will advise.

See  www.independent.co.uk/life-style/do-we-need-wasps-1311568.html  for a personal view, 

or  www.buglife.org.uk/conservation


8.    How do I build a wildlife pond in my garden?

Just Add Water is a national campaign to encourage the public to dig wildlife ponds, especially in urban environments. See advice on the froglife website here which has a link to a downloadable Just Add Water booklet.


9.   I’ve got too much frogspawn in my pond. Where can I dispose of it?

Simple answer is DON’T – there is no such thing as too much spawn or too many tadpoles, it will naturally balance out over time. See advice on the froglife website here


10.   I’ve found dead frogs in my garden. What have they died of?

 See the Froglife site here and scroll down to the ‘Illness, injury or death’ area.


11.    What else can I do for wildlife?

  • Make your garden more wildlife friendly.  See our own section on Gardening for wildlife, and the RSPB site here for advice on gardening.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Carbon footprint calculators are available here
  • Reduce the use of chemicals in the home which find their way into the wilder environment.

12.   How do I get involved locally and do some conservation work?

YACWAG work parties will be advertised on this site, but if you want to be notified of other occasional weekday work parties as they arise, please let us know of your interest and someone will contact you.

See our ‘Links to other sites’ for some other organisations.


13.   My pond is frozen over. What should I do?

  • Clear any snow from the top of the ice as this will allow sunlight to reach the oxygenating plants underneath the ice layer.  The build up of harmful gases is as much of a threat to the pond life as the ice itself
  • Do not attempt to break ice as this can damage pond lining
  • Do not pour hot water onto the ice
  • You can attempt to create hole(s) in the ice by placing a pan or bowl of hot water onto the ice.  This is a temporary measure as the hole will freeze over again in time and especially overnight but does allow unwanted gases to dissipate.
The Pond Conservation website here & their PDF here provide general advice on frozen ponds.
The Froglife website here also have some good advice.