Bonfire Night puts thousands of hedgehogs at risk - here’s how you can help protect them

4 November 2019, 11:37

People are being urged to double-check for hedgehogs before lighting their bonfires this week.

Millions of families right across the country will be celebrating Guy Fawkes night this week.

But while plenty of us love gathering around a big bonfire and watching colourful fireworks displays, the celebrations can cause havoc for wildlife.

So much so, that the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and Facebook have collaborated to warn people about the dangers to the little creatures ahead of 5 November.

They state Bonfire Night kills hundreds of hedgehogs every year as the population continues to decline.

The number of hedgehogs living in the British countryside has plummeted over the past few decades, and according to the UK Mammal Society and Natural England, the population is estimated at 522,000, two-thirds lower than in 1995.

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So, here’s what to do if you come across one of the spiky creatures, and how to keep them safe:

How to keep hedgehogs safe this Guy Fawkes night

The BHPS is urging people to only build bonfires on the day that they are due to be lit and not in advance. This means hedgehogs are more likely to be kept safe from burning.

If a fire is pre-built, it should be protected by stakes and chicken wire to keep the creatures from climbing into it and getting trapped.

Hedgehogs can be hiding inside bonfires
Hedgehogs can be hiding inside bonfires. Picture: PA Images

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Those who are building their own bonfires are advised to check for hedgehogs if they are left unattended, as hedgehogs will crawl towards the centre to build their nests.

To do this, lift the bottom of the bonfire with a broom or pole to avoid injuring them.

Finally, the charity warns the bonfire should only be lit from one side so hedgehogs have time to escape if they are living inside.

What to do if you find a hedgehog

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society advises that anyone who finds a hedgehog should take the creature with as much of the nest as they can and put it in a box with newspaper and old towels.

It should be kept away from the loud noise for the rest of the rest of the night before being re-released in the same location they were found once the fire has burnt out.

The creatures can be fed with meaty cat or dog food and water.