As part of our Give It a Go Campaign "Save the Hedgehogs", University of Winchester alumni Jenna Lloyd has written a blog with some top tips for keeping hedgehogs safe on Bonfire Night...
Hedgehogs might not be the cuddliest of garden visitors, but they’re certainly one of the cutest.
These spiky little creatures are great for pest control. They’re natural foragers so they eat lots of bugs including slugs, snails, beetles and earthworms.
But sadly, the population of British hedgehogs has fallen by 50% since 2000, and it is now understood that there are less than one million left. According to the IUCN Red List for Britain’s Mammals, the British hedgehog is now classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’.
Several of the most common threats to British hedgehogs are human behaviours. Examples include:
- Roads and vehicles
- Using insecticides and rat poisons/traps
- Walled-off gardens and other barriers e.g netting
- Discarded food packaging
- Pools of water (ponds, swimming pools)
- Use of strimmers and lawnmowers
- Feeding the wrong foods e.g milk, bread, pumpkin
- Compost heaps
As we enter a second lockdown, more and more people will be opting for back garden bonfires on Bonfire Night… but these can be lethal for hedgehogs.
This is because hedgehogs hibernate from November until the Spring, so this month they will be on the hunt for a cosy pile or leaves or a secluded area of logs to curl up in. Unchecked bonfires can lead to serious burns and many hedgehogs will die as a result.
But there are ways that you be a hedgehog hero this Bonfire Night!
If you want to put together a ‘hog-friendly’ bonfire, here are a few precautions you can take:
- Don’t build your bonfire in advance as the longer it’s left out, the more likely the hogs are to find their way in.
- If you have to build it advance, put chicken wire one metre high around the bonfire, facing outwards so the hedgehogs can’t climb it.
- Always build the bonfire on open ground, never on leaf piles.
- Always check the entire bonfire for hedgehogs before lighting it. Use a torch to look inside and lift sections using a pole or broom – not a fork or spade as you may injure a hedgehog.
- When checking the bonfire, listen for a hissing sound – hedgehogs ‘huff’, ‘hiss’ and ‘pop’ when disturbed!
If you do find a hedgehog, remember to act calmly and slowly.
Use gardening gloves to pick them up, pop them in a cardboard box with some nest material or a towel and move them to a safe outdoor location, far away from any fires or open water. There is more information about how to do this on www.hedgehog-rescue.org.uk/rescues.php.
If you find an injured hedgehog, you should follow the same steps but bring the box inside and call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890 801 or contact your local hedgehog rescue centre or vet immediately.