Pets' Corner: Ben Fogle's plea over Bonfire Night

Ben Fogle with a hedgehog. Image courtesy of British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Ben Fogle with a hedgehog - Credit: British Hedgehog Preservation Society

With many November 5 events back on this year after last year's lockdown, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and its Patron Ben Fogle are asking for some hedgehog help.

Ben said: “Please spare a few minutes to check for hedgehogs - you could literally save a life!

"Hedgehogs are in serious decline and this is one thing you can do to keep them safe.”

Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the Society added: “A bonfire pile looks like a five star hotel to a hedgehog seeking a safe and cosy winter home to hibernate in."

A hedgehog. Image courtesy of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Check for hedgehogs before lighting bonfires - Credit: British Hedgehog Preservation Society

3 step plan for Bonfire Night 2021 to help hedgehogs:

  1. MOVE the materials to clear ground on the day the bonfire is to be lit, then
  2. CHECK the pile carefully just before striking that match, and finally
  3. OFFER an escape route by only lighting from one side


A hedgehog against a background of green ivy. Image courtesy of British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Hedgehog numbers are in serious decline - Credit: British Hedgehog Preservation Society

How to check a bonfire ahead of lighting it and how to move a hedgehog 

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Hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire.

Check by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom. Never use a spade or fork as these can stab them.

Using a torch will help and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed. 

If you find a hedgehog, take as much of the nest as you can with it and place in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of newspaper, old towelling or straw.

Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers.

Wear gardening gloves or use an old towel to handle them so as not to get human smells on them and to keep them calm as hedgehogs are easily stressed; it also protects your hands from their spikes!

Put the box in a safe, quiet place such as a shed or garage well away from the festivities and offer the hedgehog some meaty cat or dog food and water.

Once the embers are totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs near where it was found, with its original nesting materials.

For more information please see www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.


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