Frequently asked questions about
Making shelters for wild animals
nature provide all the shelter that animals need?
A: No. It
never did, and now there is less shelter than ever as
more of our planet is developed into shopping centers,
parking lots, roads, businesses, and homes.
animals need shelter, why can't they make their own?
animals are resourceful enough to take advantage of a
shelter they find, but many do not have the mental and
physical abilities required to plan and build a shelter.
Q: Do wild
animals really suffer in the wintertime, or during other
periods of inclement weather?
It's a fact that some animals die during cold weather.
It is also a fact that the available evidence — and
common sense — indicates that animals do feel discomfort
and pain. Fur does not insulate any better on an animal
than when it is on you. If you wore a fur coat when it
was bitterly cold outside, you would likely feel cold
within minutes. Now imagine what it would be like to
endure weeks or months of such weather. Even if you
survived, you would be miserable. The countenance
(facial expressions) of wild animals cannot communicate
emotions as human faces can, so animals may not look
uncomfortable even when they are suffering.
Q: Is it
better to build one large brush pile as an animal
shelter, or several smaller ones?
smaller ones, because wild animals need space as a
buffer zone. However, if aesthetic or space limitations
require you to build one larger brush pile, the animals
will colonize the pile in such a way that they have the
required buffer zone. For example, in the large brush
pile shown earlier in this site, the resident animals
spaced themselves out about every 15 feet. If possible,
build two to four brush piles per acre, locating each at
least 100 feet from its closest neighbor.
Q: What if
I live in a city or suburb and can't make a brush pile?
A: Take a
drive to the country and ask a land owner if you can
gather their brush into a pile. ShelterAnimals.org
polled various land owners, and all said that they would
welcome someone offering to do this for free.
Q: Can I
make a brush pile on state or federal land?
A: Yes, if
you obtain approval from the appropriate authorities.
They will likely be thrilled that someone is motivated
and caring enough to help wild animals, but bureaucratic
rigidity may not permit any land improvement, even if it
helps animals and does nothing but redistribute dead
branches lying on the ground.
Q: If I am
a homeowner, can I assume that I have the right to make
a brush pile on my property?
may, but it is always a good idea to first discuss this
with any neighbors who may see the brush pile. Some
people who would otherwise object to a brush pile may
change their opinion when they learn that you are doing
it to help wild animals. You may also need the approval
of local authorities or your homeowners' association,
because some have covenants that restrict how you can
use your land. If needed, camouflage the brush pile by
surrounding it with wildflowers.
Remember: Brush piles are
flammable, so do not situate them near buildings. Also,
do not locate brush piles adjacent to gardens unless you
don't mind sharing your vegetables with the animals!
Because brush piles may conceal predators, do not place
them near bird feeders.
The limitations of fur
as an insulator |
Examples of how wild
animals sought manmade shelter |
for wild animals |
guide to making a brush pile with A-frame base animal
guide to making a brush pile with log base animal shelter |
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ShelterAnimals.org. All rights reserved.