Wildlife checks ahead of Bonfire Night

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In a bid to raise awareness of the importance of checking gardens for any hedgehogs that may have crawled into bonfires this Guy Fawkes night, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society is offering some tips on how to ensure your fun does not put any of the small creatures in danger.

· Try to build any bonfires on the day you plan to light them. Not only will this ensure your construction efforts don’t go to waste should it rain the night before or morning of your party, it will also give hedgehogs and other animals less of a chance to find and make a comfy space for themselves in what could likely become a very dangerous trap for them

· If you do need to pre-build a bonfire in the days leading up to your party, then be sure to extensively check the mound of leaves, branches and bark and its surrounding area prior to lighting it. Use broomstick handles to lift the pile and use a torch, looking and listening for any signs of life.

· Give your garden a thorough check for any potential dangers that young or vulnerable hedgehogs could risk falling into. Large holes or drains can be covered or filled in to prevent injury or unnecessary suffering.

· If hedgehogs are found, take as much of the nest as you can and place them in a high-sided cardboard or plastic box with plenty of newspaper/old towelling. Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is secured firmly to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers. Wear garden gloves so as not to get human smells on them and to keep them calm as hedgehogs are easily stressed – also, it 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 specialist hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food – not fish-based – as well as some water to drink. Refrain from offering any cows milk as this can cause diarrhoea in the animals. Once the bonfire is totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs.

· If you come across a hedgehog during hours of daylight, this could be a sign that it is in need to some medical attention or has been left homeless. Call the SSPCA helpline on 03000 999 999 for further assistance and advice on how to handle the situation.

Watch the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s video here.

In order to highlight exactly how tricky hedgehogs are to spot in a typical autumnal setting, the team at www.Hillarys.co.uk have designed and created the following interactive game aimed at testing how quickly people are able to spot the camouflaged creatures –  visit www.hillarys.co.uk/static/hedgehog-hunt/

Users have to try and find the five cleverly hidden hedgehogs within the interactive bonfire image before their 30 seconds are up – lots of fun with an important message.