Take care on bonfire night because you could be burning more than old wood and furniture. A number of animals, including hedgehogs, are attracted by the cosy creature comforts an unlit bonfire offers.
Dr Andy Brigham from Rentokil says, “hedgehogs like the shelter afforded by long standing bonfire piles. If it is warm and dry you could also get things like grass snakes and maybe a rat or two if they are around.”
Hedgehogs, along with the red squirrel and stagbeetle, are on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan’s list of species in need of conservation and greater protection. Dr Matt Green, Entomologist at Rentokil says, “rotting stumps are great refuges for stag beetles and they shouldn’t be burned. Watch out for hazel wood which is likely to contain furniture beetle larvae at this time of year.”
If you come across a distressed or injured hedgehog it is important to keep it warm. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society says, “place the hedgehog in a box with a well-wrapped hot water bottle placed underneath. The bottle must not be allowed to go cold or it will undo the good it has done. Once you have the hedgehog settled and warming up, call us 01584 890 801 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01584 890 801 end_of_the_skype_highlighting for further advice or the number of your local carer”.
Unless critical to the animal’s welfare, try to avoid touching a hedgehog as they are also home for fleas and blood sucking ticks, and baby hedgehogs may be rejected by their mother if your scent is detected.
Tips to safeguard your bonfire from creatures
- Assemble your bonfire shortly before lighting to ensure there are no trapped animals inside.
- Make an alternative home for animals and insects by raking up a pile of leaves for creatures and hedgehogs to crawl into.
- Before lighting a bonfire check it carefully with a torch and light one side only to provide an escape route for hedgehogs and other nesting wildlife.
- Move any hedgehogs found to a ready-made hedgehog box or somewhere dry and safe away from the fire.