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04 November 2023

Remember, remember… the wildlife on 5th November!

Top tips and handy hints for homeowners celebrating bonfire night this weekend – here is everything you need to know in order to keep hedgehogs and other local wildlife safe

As bonfire night rolls around once more, you may be hosting a firework night celebration in your home. As always, this is a night perfect for family fun, but is not such a celebrated night for much of the wildlife which might surround your home. To minimise the impact bonfires and fireworks might have on some of your friends at the bottom of the garden, we’ve compiled a few tips for you to keep in mind this 5th November.

1. Never make your bonfire in advance

Big piles of wood and leaves are a hedgehog’s ideal sleeping spot. If you build your bonfire days before the big event, it’s likely that some hedgehogs will seize the opportunity to move into a new home, just like you! Instead, bonfires should be built as close to lighting them as possible to minimise the chance of it becoming the napping spot for an innocent hedgehog.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

Make sure you have your bonfire or fireworks in a clearing away from trees to avoid any fires spreading. Also be mindful of the ground you’re building the bonfire on to ensure the fire won’t catch and spread across your lawn. Be mindful that on some ground, especially peaty soil, fire can also spread downwards so can appear to be extinguished, only to reignite on the ground some time later. Always keep water handy when dealing with fires.

3. Build a barrier

If you want to be extra safe, once your bonfire is built you could add chicken wire around the outside, about 1m high. This will stop most wildlife being able to crawl over to your bonfire and is also useful for keeping children at a safe distance from the flames.

4. Always check your bonfire

Even if your bonfire has only recently been constructed, it is still important to check for any opportunistic wildlife who might have made themselves at home within it. Remove the top layer of your bonfire and shine a torch through the pile to check no one has settled in. If you do come across any hedgehogs, it’s best not to touch them in case they are young or beginning hibernation. Just replace the layer above them and this disturbance should be enough to alert them, and they’ll start moving on and find somewhere else to rest. To be extra safe, when lighting your bonfire only do so from one side. This gives any hidden creatures the opportunity to escape from the other side, rather than surrounding them with no escape.

5. Frogs and Toads

It isn’t just hedgehogs we have to be worried about making their way into your bonfire. Depending on the type of area you live in, frogs and toads may choose your woodpile as the perfect place to escape the November chill. To reduce the chances of this, place other logs and piles of garden debris around your garden, near to where they enter your garden if you can, to encourage them to take up residence somewhere other than your bonfire.

6. The Aftermath

After your bonfire has finished and the night is drawing to a close, ensure that the fire is properly extinguished and that no hot ashes are left on the ground. Hot debris or any litter from fireworks or drinks cans can seriously injure all types of wildlife so make sure you leave your garden clear.

Bonfire blog 4.11.22

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