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hedgehog-child-1759489_960_720How to Keep Hedgehogs out of your Bonfire

Keep everybody’s favourite garden visitor safe this Bonfire Night with these simple tips from Kate Patten
In late autumn, hedgehogs hunt out a home for winter hibernation. They look for dry places such as spaces under garden sheds, in a compost heap, homemade hedgehog houses or under hedges. Unfortunately for them, this is also the season for bonfires, large heaps of dry wood that look like perfect homes for them.
Top tips for keeping hedgehogs out

1. If collecting wood for your bonfire before the day, make sure to keep it under tarpaulin or in a shed.

2. Make sure to not construct the bonfire until the actual day of your festivities.

3. If not kept under or in anything, be sure to move your pile to a different spot on the day, so you can check for hedgehogs.

4. If having a large bonfire that needs to be built in advance, place chicken wire one metre high around the area, held in place with stakes and angled outwards so that the hedgehogs cannot climb it. This will also keep other wildlife, pets and children away from the construction.

5. Before lighting, shine a torch into the stack and listen for a hissing sound. This is the noise hedgehogs make when disturbed.

If you find a hedgehog, it is important to look after it, and only release it once the bonfire and fireworks are over so as not to frighten it. In normal circumstances, unless the hedgehog is in danger or you believe it needs help, it is best to leave them alone.

How to care for hedgehogs if found

1. Wear gardening gloves so as not to get the scent of human on them, to minimise stress to them and save your hands from spines.

2. If you spot a hedgehog in your bonfire, use a pole or broom handle to lift the pile.

3. Take as much of the nest as you can and place in a high sided cardboard box, with holes in the top, lined with newspaper and old towelling.

4. Make sure the lid is firmly secured, or they will climb out and may injure themselves.

5. Place the box in a shed or garage away from the bonfire and noise of fireworks that will scare them.

6. Give them meaty dog/cat food and some fresh water.hedgehog-child-1696202_960_720

7. Once the bonfire is totally damped down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs with more food and water.

8. Try and release them the same night if possible, to reduce stress.

For more information on hedgehogs, visit The British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Source: Country File

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