Wrapping up and gathering around a crackling bonfire on 5th November might be fun for us - but it’s important to spare a thought for the vulnerable wildlife that might get caught up in the dangers of our annual November celebrations.
Hedgehogs in particular often see piles of crunchy leaves, wood and other bits and pieces as the perfect opportunity to set up a cosy nest. That’s why it’s so important to triple check your bonfire set-up before you light it - bonfires around November 5th are a huge threat to hedgehogs at this time of year.
In order to do this, you should carefully move the bonfire on the day of lighting to ensure it is not home to some unaware little prickly pals. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society says the bonfire pile should be moved entirely before lighting, using something like a broom handle to lift it from the base, checking the centre and bottom of the pile.
Use a torch and listen out for any hissing sounds, which is what a hedgehog would likely do if disturbed. If your bonfire has to be built in advance, try wrapping chicken wire around the bottom to stop hedgehogs getting in - but make sure to check it before lighting, just in case.
When it comes to lighting the bonfire later in the evening, make sure you light it from one side to give any nesting hedgehogs - or other wildlife - the opportunity to escape in peace.
If you do happen to come across a hedgehog in your bonfire pile, pull on a pair of gardening gloves and carefully move the hedgehog into a cardboard box with air holes and some newspaper, towels, food and water. Keep them away from the bonfire and once the celebrations have finished and the fire is completely out, release the hedgehog into a nice wild area so it can be on its way.
For some great advice on what to do if you come across a hedgehog and to support the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, go to https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/