Check your bonfires for Hedgehogs.
Bonfire night is a time of celebration, with fireworks lighting up the night sky and the warmth of a crackling fire bringing people together. However, amidst the excitement, it is crucial to remember the wildlife that may seek refuge in our bonfires, particularly the adorable hedgehogs. These tiny creatures can often find themselves in harm's way if proper precautions are not taken. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with essential tips and advice on how to check your bonfires for sleeping hedgehogs and ensure their safety on bonfire night. Remember, every action you take can make a significant difference in protecting our precious wildlife.
Why Are Bonfires Dangerous for Hedgehogs?
Before diving into the steps to protect hedgehogs, let's understand why bonfires pose a threat to these little creatures. Hedgehogs seek out warm and sheltered spots to hibernate during the winter months. Unfortunately, a pile of logs in a bonfire is an ideal nesting place for them. If precautions are not taken, hedgehogs can become trapped and suffer severe injuries or even death when the bonfire is lit. Our responsibility is to ensure their safety and create a bonfire night that is enjoyable for both humans and wildlife alike.
Step-by-Step Guide to Checking Your Bonfire for Sleeping Hedgehogs
We have compiled a comprehensive list of steps to help you protect hedgehogs and ensure their safety when building and lighting your bonfire. Following these guidelines, you can enjoy your bonfire night while safeguarding these adorable creatures.
- Build and Light Your Bonfire on the Same Day Building your bonfire on the same day you plan to light it can significantly reduce the risk of hedgehogs seeking shelter. The longer the bonfire is left unattended, the higher the chances of hedgehogs wandering in.
- lace Chicken Wire Around the Bonfire One effective way to prevent hedgehogs from entering your bonfire is by placing chicken wire around the base. It would be best to set this at least one metre high and at an outward angle. Hedgehogs are skilled climbers, so the wire should make it difficult for them to scale and access the bonfire.
- Store Bonfire Materials Away from the Building Site If you have stored materials for your bonfire outdoors, it is crucial to move them to a different patch of ground. This will ensure that any hedgehogs or other wildlife that may have sought shelter in the materials have a chance to escape before you build the bonfire.
- Choose an Open Ground for Your Bonfire Always select an open ground for your bonfire, avoiding piles of leaves or other potential hiding spots for hedgehogs. By doing so, you reduce the risk of inadvertently trapping hedgehogs under the bonfire.
- Thoroughly Check the Bonfire Before Lighting Before lighting your bonfire, it is essential to conduct a thorough check for hedgehogs. They tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire. To check, lift parts of the bonfire section by section using a pole or broom. Avoid using a fork, spade, or rake, as these tools may injure the hedgehogs.
- Use a Torch and Listen for Hissing Sounds When checking the bonfire, use a torch to illuminate the interior and listen for hissing sounds. Hedgehogs make this noise when they are disturbed or distressed. By being attentive, you can ensure that no hedgehogs are hiding within the bonfire.
- Light the Bonfire from One Corner To give hedgehogs a chance to escape if they are present, always light your bonfire from one corner rather than in the centre. This provides them with an opportunity to find an exit route and avoid harm.
- Handling and Relocating Hedgehogs If you discover a hedgehog while checking the bonfire, it is essential to handle them with care. Wear garden gloves to protect your hands and prevent human smells from transferring to the hedgehog. Take as much of their nest as possible and place them in a high-sided box lined with newspaper. Ensure the box has air holes and a secure lid. Move the box to a safe location away from the festivities, or wait until the bonfire is over before releasing the hedgehog under a bush or a log pile.
"If hedgehogs are found, take as much of the nest as you can and place them in a high-sided cardboard or plastic box with plenty of newspaper/old towelling. Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers." - Fay Vass, Chief Executive of BHPS
Additional Tips to Protect Hedgehogs and Wildlife
In addition to the specific steps outlined above, here are some additional tips to keep in mind when it comes to protecting hedgehogs and other wildlife on bonfire night:
- Attend Official Organized Fireworks Displays: Consider attending official fireworks displays instead of hosting your own. These events are designed with safety measures for humans and wildlife.
- Provide Alternative Shelter: Create alternative hedgehog shelters in your garden or outdoor space. This could include log piles, hedgehog houses, or other suitable habitats where they can seek refuge.
- Educate Others: Share this information with your friends, neighbours, and event organizers. By spreading awareness, we can collectively make a significant impact in protecting hedgehogs and wildlife.
- Share on Social Media: Utilize social media platforms to raise awareness about the importance of checking bonfires for sleeping hedgehogs. Use the hashtag #RememberHedgehogs to reach a wider audience and encourage others to take action.
Bonfire night can be a joyous occasion for everyone, including our wildlife. By following these steps and taking the necessary precautions, we can ensure the safety of hedgehogs and other creatures seeking shelter in our bonfires. Remember, every bonfire is an opportunity to protect our natural environment and make a positive impact on the lives of these adorable creatures. Let's celebrate responsibly and create a bonfire night that is safe and enjoyable for all. #RememberHedgehogs on bonfire night and beyond!