For anyone who has open man-made water sources on their property, wildlife escape ramps are very important.
What is a wildlife escape ramp? Wildlife escape ramps are ramps or other structures that allow wildlife that fall into the water to escape from water troughs or buckets that otherwise have side that are too steep for animals to climb out on their own.
For water sources with shallow sloping sides (such as most bird baths), wildlife escape ramps are not necessary as animals can climb out over the edge as the water is shallow near the edge. However, for water sources with steep sides (such as most livestock water troughs), wildlife escape ramps are needed to help any animals that fall in and are unable to climb out because of the steep sides.
A couple of weeks ago, a juvenile bird drowned in one of our water troughs and a toad was unable to climb out of one of the other water buckets (we got the toad out in time). In addition to causing the deaths of animals that fall in, dead animals in the water troughs can spread disease to the livestock, and even when discovered within a day, requires the water trough to be emptied, cleaned and then refilled.
We researched solutions and the most useful solution was to build wildlife escape ramps.
The wildlife escape ramp provides a shallower slope for animals to climb out. The escape ramp cannot just stick out or float in the middle of the water. Animals that fall in usually immediately swim to the edge of the container and then exhaust themselves swimming around the edge looking for a way out. The escape ramps needs to fully contact the edge so any animals swimming around the edge finds the ramp and can make their way out. If the ramp just stuck out into the middle of the water but didn’t touch the side all the way down below the water line, many animals would swim around the edge and miss the escape ramp.
The first ramps we built for the smaller water buckets were simple ramps made out of vinyl coated wire mesh. The design was also very simple and the wire mesh can be bent easily by hand. The ramp simple hangs over the side of the bucket and contacts the side of the bucket almost all the way down to the bottom.
In a future post, I will describe how to create the simple ramp using step-by-step instructions.