By Luke FarnishThere’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter which can mean only one thing: celebrations are just around the corner. As pumpkins and spider webs litter people’s front windows, many will be reciting that age old rhyme, ‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November’. As you dust off that box of sparklers you’re not sure will even light and sort through your clothes to see which you don’t mind burning on the guy, spare a thought for the hedgehogs of your neighbourhood.
Every year hedgehogs are killed in bonfires, having taken up the pile of logs as a new residence. But following these four simple steps can help stop your bonfire from becoming a killer.
1. Source the wood responsibly. Wood piles can often house hedgehogs (among many other organisms) so if you are taking wood from an open pile be sure to check it before taking anything so as to not disturb any hedgehogs already living there. Scattered dead wood is a better source for your bonfire.
2. Only light the fire in a wide open space. Hopefully this goes without saying. Don’t light bonfires near, or under, anything else. Bonfires too close to bushes can set these alight, another potential hedgehog home, not to mention the possibility of the fire spreading further. As a note to anyone building their first, a large bonfire gets hotter than you might expect, so keep it well away from anything.
3. Don’t pre-build the bonfire. Possibly the most important tip for preserving hedgehog lives is to build the bonfire just before lighting it. It really doesn’t take long and (so long as you were paying attention and a hedgehog didn’t sneak in, which is highly unlikely) it should be hedgehog free.
4. Have a quick check just before lighting it. Take about a minute and check it from several angles. It can sometimes be tricky to spot a small brown hedgehog against a number of brown sticks so take the time.
We hope you have a lot of fun this bonfire night, but do keep the local hedgehogs in mind. Following the tips above should help prevent a prickly situation.
Image from The Wildlife Trusts