Hedgehogs are endangered species, meaning that every single one of them is precious. Their numbers have dwindled from an estimated 30 million in Britain in the 1950s, to around 1.5 million today. This is why everyone should be especially careful this bonfire night to ensure that there are no hedgehogs hibernating in the piles of logs, sticks, twigs and leaves which we use to create bonfires.
Don’t build bonfires until the day
A great way to avoid harming hedgehogs this bonfire night is to wait until the day you’re planning on having your bonfire before building it. Bonfires look like luxury spa hotels to sleepy hedgehogs looking for somewhere cosy to hibernate, and the longer you leave them standing, the more chance hedgehogs will take up residence there.
Building smaller piles of leaves and sticks away from the bonfire could encourage wildlife to nest inside those rather than in the pre-lit bonfire. Building hedgehog boxes can encourage hedgehogs to come to your garden, and keeps them safe if they’re built away from the bonfire.
Avoid building bonfires on piles of leaves. Assemble them on flat bits of land where possible, and be sure to clear away the leaves if not. There could be hedgehogs sleeping underneath them!
By doing this, the timber for your bonfire will stay dry too!
Consider other wildlife as well
It’s not just hedgehogs that can be harmed by not checking bonfires thoroughly; frogs, newts and toads could also be harmed.
A final check that nothing has sneaked into the bonfire with a torch before it is lit is paramount to preserving wildlife this bonfire night. Remember, your back garden is their home too! Taking these precautions won’t require much effort, but could preserve some of Britain’s endangered, prickly friends.
Of course, it’s not just hedgehogs that need protecting during bonfire night. Have a read of some advice on how to keep other animals and pets safe from the Blue Cross.
If you see any hedgehog out and about at this time of year it is best to contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful). Out of hours you will be directed to other numbers but whatever the time, with patience, you should be able to speak to a real person. For more information about hedgehogs and how to help them visit The BHPS web site at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.