How do you keep hedgehogs safe on bonfire night?
It's that time of year again that all Hedgehog lovers dread, Bonfire Night.
Our friends over at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), a charity that specialising in the protection and conservation of hedgehogs, have put together a handy guide giving advice on how to keep hedgehogs safe this bonfire night.
Hedgehog safety advice for bonfire night
Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the Society and a guest on the very first episode of The Wildlife Community podcast starts off the BHPS advice by stating “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:
1) MOVE the materials to clear ground on the day they’re to be lit, then
2) CHECK the pile carefully just before striking that match, and finally
3) 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 to see any signs of life. Also listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed.
How do you remove a hedgehog from a bonfire?
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.”
Are Pumpkins Bad For Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are omnivores with most of their diet being garden pests like slugs and insects. They will however eat small amounts of fallen fruit, roots and plants as they forage for the tasty meaty grubs they love. However, eating a lot of pumpkin flesh, which happens quite often during Halloween, can result in health issues for hedgehogs. This large amount of fibrous fruit is likely to cause upset digestion causing diarrhoea, which can result in dehydration and in serious cases it can be fatal. Even if it's not, a weakened hedgehog can't hunt properly for food, so may not put on enough weight to survive hibernation over the winter.
So, if you're planning leaving out 'Jack o lanterns' after Halloween try placing them out of reach of foraging hoggies. Don't leave them on the ground as they'll become an easy-to-access meal, try hanging them from a tree or putting them on a wall.
Help Protect Our Bats
As Halloween approaches, what better time to celebrate bats and learn how to help these fascinating creatures.
As the nights close in for the fast-approaching winter and we're outside preparing for Halloween and bonfire night, it's a fantastic opportunity to spot nocturnal wildlife. Have you noticed bats visiting your garden as the sun goes down? They'll be out fattening up and seeking places to hibernate during October and November, much the same as hedgehogs.
We can all do our bit to help bats this year by providing them with safe, cosy habitats and ensuring you have an abundance of flowers and wildflowers in your gardens and outdoor spaces to attract insects!
Find out more about bats on our Wildlife Facts bat page here.
Hedgehog Street, a partnership project between the People's Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society have produced a great poster to spread the word about bonfire safety tips this year. Have a look at the poster below and help Hedgehog Street spread the word and promote hedgehog safety this bonfire night!