Sparklers, treacle toffee and firework displays: it’s this time of year when we love loud bangs and sparkling skies. However, not all creatures share our feelings about Bonfire Night.
Hedgehogs are particularly vulnerable right now.
Around October, hedgehogs (also known as the gardener’s friend) snuffle from place to place in the dead of night, building their nests from leaf litter, compost and grass. This nest is called a hibernaculum. They hibernate from November to March, feeding up on a rich diet of snails, insects, frogs and worms then curling their small bodies up tight, slowing their bodily processes to conserve energy.
Bonfire Night can cause problems for sleeping hedgehogs as they love to nest in log piles. It’s our duty to do our bit for these fantastic creatures which are a quintessential part of British wildlife.
Top 3 ways to save hedgehogs on Bonfire Night
1 Build your bonfire on the day you light it
That way hedgehogs will not have chance to colonise your log pile
2 Lay your log pile on the ground, not on mounds of leaves
Leaves are favourite hiding places for these spiny creatures. Keep them safe by setting up your celebrations elsewhere
3 Surround your woodpile with chicken wire
If you need to build your bonfire in advance, secure it with a 1m tall fence of chicken wire. Hedgehogs are expert climbers but this barrier should keep them out!
But these animals don’t just need our help during the autumn months – our beloved hedgehogs are in sharp decline. As towns and cities have grown and hedgerows have been replaced with wooden fences and concrete, these small mammals have lost the connectivity of the countryside and the ability to move around from place to place with ease.
Once a common sight in our gardens, hedgehog numbers have decreased dramatically and while there were around 30 million of these creatures in the UK during the 1950s, there are now only one million hedgehogs left.
Here are our best tips for looking after hedgehogs all year round:
1 Leave out food
Our Spike’s Hedgehog Food range gives them all the nutrients they could ever need!
2 Make a hedgehog home
A cosy house will attract hedgehogs (and their families!) to your garden – take a look at this great guide
3 Create a doorway
If you have a fence around your yard, create a small gap at the bottom to make sure that your neighbourhood hedgehogs can wander at night in search for food without hitting a brick wall
4 Give them an easy escape
If you have a pond, ensure hedgehogs can climb out quickly if they have an unlucky tumble! Invest in a small ladder or use stones to create a bank