3D printed tree hollows to serve as homes to Australia’s displaced wildlife

After wildfires ravaged the Australian bush this year and last, a great variety of birds and other small animals were suddenly left without a home as the tree hollows they relied on for habitat were no longer there.

Deploying traditional wooden nesting boxes is one way to provide new homes for the animals, but the problem is that such boxes aren’t nearly as insulated as the tree hollows, failing to protect the animals from the midday heat. Not only that, but they also have a relatively short lifespan.

Looking to provide better alternative homes to displaced wildlife, scientists at Australia’s Charles Sturt University have created 3D-printed plastic nesting boxes that are similar in size, shape and appearance to the natural tree hollows — which, by the way, can take hundreds of years to occur naturally.

The new artificial tree hollows are made out of 100 percent recycled plastic and feature a double-walled design that gives them thermal insulating qualities much like those of their natural counterparts. What’s more, compared to traditional wooden bird boxes, the 3D-printed homes are expected to last at least as long as real tree hollows.

In field tests conducted so far, wild red-rumped parrots were found to readily accept the boxes as nesting sites. Now, the plan is to mount the devices on trees throughout various regions of Australia where displaced birds and other animals could adopt them as their new homes.

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