With many 5th November events back after the lockdown gap last year, and people hosting bonfire parties in gardens, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and its Patron Ben Fogle are concerned that hedgehogs will be injured or killed if the piles of material aren’t carefully checked. Ben is asking for the public’s help – “Please, please, please spare a few minutes to check for hedgehogs – you could literally save a life! Hedgehogs are in serious decline and this is one thing you can do to keep them safe. There are other small changes you can make that will help even more, take a look at the BHPS website for ideas.”
Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the Society added “Ben’s right! A bonfire pile looks like a 5* hotel to a hedgehog seeking a safe and cosy winter home to hibernate in. They aren’t to know we plan to set light to it!”
The Society has a three-step plan to try to ensure the safety of hedgehogs on bonfire night:
- MOVE the materials to clear ground on the day they’re to be lit, then
- CHECK the pile carefully just before striking that match, and finally
- OFFER an escape route by only lighting from one side.
Hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, which should be checked by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom. Never use a spade or fork as these can stab them. Using a torch will help and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed.
Fay continued “If a hedgehog is found, take as much of the nest as you can with it and place in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of newspaper, old towelling or straw. Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers. Wear gardening gloves or use an old towel to handle them so as not to get human smells on them and to keep them calm as hedgehogs are easily stressed; it also protects your hands from their spikes! Put the box in a safe, quiet place such as a shed or garage well away from the festivities and offer the hedgehog some meaty cat or dog food and water. Once the embers are totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs near where it was found, with its original nesting materials.”