Prague consistently ranks high among European cities for having the most green space. Parks, cemeteries, private gardens, streams, the Vltava river, and protected national forests all make up a vast network of wildlife habitat within the city limits. With open access to nature comes more interaction with Prague’s non-human residents. Below are tips for improving your garden space to be more animal-friendly and how to have safe interactions with Prague’s wildlife.
Bird feeders are a fun tool for learning about bird species in Prague. The position of bird feeders is key to ensure the birds’ safety. Domesticated cats are a threat to local birds, so place the bird feeder up high. If it is too low, the birds fall into a baited trap to be killed for sport.
Birds also do not interact well with windows. They can become confused and fly into the window or attack their reflection. As lovely as it is to watch the birds at the windowsill, set the bird feeder further away to prevent accidental death. Additionally, if birds are routinely too close to the windows, they may see an open window as an invitation to come inside and wreak havoc.
Cleaning the bird feeder regularly prevents illness and filling it with approved birdseed ensures bird safety. Filling the bird feeder year round tells birds it is a trusted source of food, and they will spend more time in your backyard. During winter especially, birds need a reliable source of food.
After the winter hibernation, hedgehogs roam the parks and cemeteries on warm evenings. Their diet consists of insects, and are an adorable and helpful companion for gardens. Hedgehogs can travel almost a kilometer per night in search of food, water, and a mate. If your garden is in need of pest control, cut a hedgehog highway out of the fence so the garden is connected to the broader habitat network: parks, neighboring gardens, and forests. Hedgehogs benefit from cozy areas for hibernation, like log piles and overgrown shrubbery. Shallow bowls of water can help ensure local hedgehogs are getting the water they need. These spiny little rodents may be cute, but make sure to enjoy them from a safe distance, just like any of Prague’s wildlife.
Swans and Ducks
Although feeding bread to swans, ducks, and other waterfowl is popular and fun, it is not recommended. Bread has low nutritional quality and is not part of a bird’s natural diet. Leftover bits of bread can get soggy, rot, and disrupt the nutrient balance in the waterways and on land. Next time you paddle boat with the ducks on the Vltava, or the swans at Stromovka park, avoid feeding them altogether and focus on enjoying their presence. Animals that become too dependent on humans for food can become dangerous to themselves and humans. Populations can grow out of control, they wander further out of their habitat for food, and diseases spread more easily with continued contact with animals.
Transatlantic trade brought foreign plants, animals, and diseases between Europe and the Americas. Fur traders introduced this large rodent to Europe after exploring South America. They brought the nutria back to breed commercially for fur. They can be found along the banks of the Vltava and other calm waterways. As an invasive species, nutria are difficult to control and negatively impact the environment. They carry disease and are quite shy, so interaction with them should be avoided.
Stretch your legs after a long winter, and a long spring quarantine. Enjoy time outdoors this summer in one of Prague’s many green areas. Follow these guidelines to keep Prague’s wildlife safe and cared for as they live among humans.
American by birth and Praguer by choice, Caroline can be found enjoying Pho Bo at one of the city’s many Vietnamese restaurants or finding the best way to promote public transportation.