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Keep hedgehogs safe from bonfires

Amy Holloway

As one of Britain’s favourite wild mammals, the hedgehog is usually a welcome addition to any domestic garden. But at this time of year there’s a need to be extra vigilant in checking if one of these delightful creatures has chosen to bed down on your patch.

As we have a lot of injured hedgehogs brought in around Halloween and Bonfire Night approach, our head nurse, Emma, has compiled a few pointers to keep them safe.

Our experienced vet nurses at Clent Hills Vets can offer year-round advice on how to treat and care for these occasional wild visitors. And we’re here to answer any more questions you may have.

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Bonfires abound around these autumn events, and they are a perennial danger to our hedgerow-dwelling friends, which love nothing more than to curl up in a nice, ready-made pile of sticks.

To keep them from getting caught in a blaze, you can take several precautionary steps:

1. Build your bonfire on the day

Tempting as it may be to get all your entertainment sorted in advance, an existing bonfire pile is easy for a hedgehog to climb into and you may find it difficult to spot. Making your bonfire on the day will also ensure your wood stays dry should it rain the day before.

2. Moving bonfire material

If your stored bonfire materials are on open ground, move them to a different area prior to lighting – but don’t put them on a pile of leaves as a hedgehog could be snoozing underneath.

3. Avoid pampas grass

Pampas is a favourite for hedgehogs to hide under and is highly flammable, so keep your bonfire at a safe distance.

4. Checking for bonfire inhabitants

If your bonfire has been built in advance and left unattended, check carefully in the centre and bottom two feet – where hedgehogs are most likely to hang out. Simply lift the materials gently with a pole or brush. Don’t use anything sharp as this could stab any visitors.

5. Moving a hedgehog

If you do find a hedgehog, wear garden gloves to gently move as much of the nest into a deep, lidded box with plenty of newspaper. Put it in a safe place until well after the bonfire has died down. The hedgehog can then be released into a suitable area.

Remember, if you need any more advice, you can give our team a call on our central advice line 01527 889810.

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