Bonfire night can be lots of fun for humans, but it can be a scary and dangerous time for hedgehogs.
“Hedgehogs can die or suffer terrible injuries through contact with bonfires, so we’re asking people to be especially vigilant for the next few weeks and take care when building them,” says Tarnya Knight, from international wildlife charity Born Free Foundation.
Here are five tips on building a hedgehog-friendly bonfire:
- Build your bonfire on the day it will be lit.
- Build the bonfire on clear ground, never on top of a pile of leaves or near to a pampas grass
- If you are unable build the fire on the day of lighting, use a broom handle to check the bonfire by gently lifting section by section and using a torch to look and listen for hedgehogs
- If a bonfire has to be built in advance, prevent hedgehogs from getting in by putting chicken wire one metre high all the way around the bottom. This should be held in place with stakes and the wire should slope outwards at an angle to make it difficult to climb (hedgehogs are good climbers!)
- If you do find a hedgehog in your unlit bonfire, place it in a box with some leaves or shredded paper, with some water and meaty cat or dog food, and place it in a shed where it can be left in the quiet until the fireworks have finished and the bonfire dampened down.
If you find a young or underweight hedgehog at this time of year please contact your local wildlife rescue centre or vet – they might not survive the winter without their help.