Put Guy Fawkes on the bonfire, not hedgehogs

A wildlife charity is warning that hedgehogs could get burned in fires on Bonfire Night as they often sleep under the wood piles.

Slick after treatment
Slick after treatment

Care for the Wild, based in Brighton Road, Horsham, is asking anyone building a bonfire to follow basic hog-friendly guidelines to ensure that it’s only Guy Fawkes that gets burned on November 5:

l If possible, do not build your bonfire until the day it is lit.

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l Put the pile of material next to the bonfire site and rebuild before lighting it.

l Make sure that you build the bonfire on clear ground, never on top of a pile of leaves or near to pampas grass, as both are good hiding places for hedgehogs.

l If a large bonfire has to be built in advance, protect it whilst building by putting some chicken wire one metre high all the way around the bottom. This should be held in place with stakes and the wire should slope outwards at an angle to make it difficult to climb, as hedgehogs are good climbers!

l If you are unable build the fire on the day of lighting, use a broom handle to check the bonfire by gently lifting section by section and use a torch to look and listen for hedgehogs.

Care for the Wild’s Wildlife Carer Tarnya Knight said:“In Autumn hedgehogs begin to look for places to hibernate, and unfortunately unlit bonfires are an ideal place. Countless hedgehogs die or suffer horrific injuries because bonfire piles are not checked before being lit.

“We’re not trying to spoil anyone’s fun, but it’s very easy to ensure that your bonfire is hedgehog-safe.

“If you do find a hedgehog in your unlit bonfire, place it in a box with some leaves or shredded paper with some water and meaty cat or dog food and place it a shed where it can be left in the quiet until the fireworks have finished and the bonfire dampened down.”

Care for the Wild helps rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of wild animals each year. Recently a hedgehog – named Slick – was accidentally dropped into a barrel of oil after sleeping in a bale of hay when the bale got moved.

“That could have killed him to be honest but Arthur’s Lodge vets in Brighton Road did an amazing job, and now he’s right as rain,” said Tarnya.

If you would like advice on ensuring your Guy Fawkes bonfire is hedgehog-safe, please contact Tarnya on 01403 249832 or on [email protected]

Report and pictures contributed by Care for the Wild.