Bonfire threat to nesting hedgehogs

Bonfires pose a great threat to hedgehogs at this time of year and we ask everyone planning to attend or hold a bonfire party to check the base of the bonfire for sleeping hedgehogs before lighting to avoid this charming creature being burnt alive.

The hedgehog – perhaps the most iconic British mammal is dying out and could face extinction by the turn of the next century unless we all take action to keep them safe.
We want everyone to enjoy the spectacle of a well organised bonfire and firework display but please be aware that hedgehogs love wood and often make a nest at the base of bonfires or piles of garden debris. All you need to do is to carry out a few simple safety checks before lighting to save hedgehogs and other wildlife from terrible suffering.
The Snuffles “keep hedgehogs safe on bonfire night” top tips are:

  • Check for a nesting hedgehog by gently lifting the base of the bonfire section by section using a long pole or broom handle. Never use a spade or fork as these can injure or kill the hedgehog.
  • Use a torch to check for hedgehog residents in the pile and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise hedgehogs often make when they are disturbed.
  • Ideally build your bonfire on the day you plan to light it to avoid the hedgehog using it as a nest.
  • Move the bonfire to a different area on the day of lighting to avoid a tragic end to a very precious life.

What to do if you find a nesting hedgehog in the bonfire

Put on some thick gardening gloves to protect your hands from the sharp spines and on the night of the bonfire party place the hedgehog and as much of its nest as you can in a high sided large cardboard box (at least 18” as hedgehogs climb) or a pet carrier lined with newspaper. Add some strips of newspaper or hay and put the box in a safe and quiet place such as a shed or garage (not in your home) until the fireworks are over and the fire completely out. Don’t forget to put food and water in the box. They eat meat based cat or dog food in jelly and they need a bowl of water (not milk).
The day after the fire release the hedgehog under a hedge or bush close to where you found it and provide more food and water at night. NEVER remove a hedgehog from where you find it and take it to another area. Hedgehogs are creatures of habit and get to know the area. You could also be removing the only male or female in the area and this would disrupt the breeding potential.
Alternatively on the night of the bonfire pick up the hedgehog and place it along with as much of its nest as possible away from the bonfire in a quiet and undisturbed part of the garden.

Thank you for helping to keep these beautiful creatures safe.