The 5th of November is fast approaching and with it so are private Guy Fawkes and Bonfire night preparations!
With public displays and organised gatherings being cancelled due to the firebreak lockdown regulations, many households may still decide to celebrate with their own private garden activities. If this is something you are considering, please remember the impacts of bonfire night on our precious wildlife, especially our declining hedgehog population.
The bright lights and loud bangs of fireworks scare many animals, both domestic pets, livestock and of course wildlife too! With ever increasing availability of fireworks for public purchase the disturbance to animals is often not only on one night, but spread across the weeks that lead up to Christmas and New Year. This is not to say we cannot enjoy the festivities with our family though, if possible we recommend buying silent/quiet/animal friendly fireworks.
Fireworks are not the only danger to wildlife on bonfire night. Bonfires are large piles of wood and sticks which look like great hiding places for all sorts of birds and small mammals, including our treasured hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are one of fastest declining species of mammals in Britain, mainly due to decreasing amount of suitable habitat. Habitats become unsuitable through use of pesticides in gardens, towns and farming practices killing off invertebrates and other food sources.
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) manages nature reserves to ensure good quality habitats and food availability. WTSWW also leave deadwood in woodland to decompose and provide a suitable place for invertebrates to live which are food for hedgehogs and many other species.
You can help wildlife at home by following our handy tips....
Is it safe to SNOOZE there?
Please, please remember to thoroughly check bonfires for any sleeping wildlife before lighting!
Bonfires piles are great to build and make fantastic hiding places for wildlife. They also provide shelter from the bad weather and cold temperatures.
However, they are particularly dangerous to hedgehogs who at this time of year are searching for suitable hibernation sites. Due to the time it takes to build, many bonfires are often built days beforehand; giving wildlife a chance to move in.
How to Help!
We recommend building or rebuild your private garden bonfire the night of burning. The act of taking apart should scare off wildlife and by doing it by hand gives slow moving animals a chance to make good their escape.
This year is unusually mild (but wet!), in the unlikely event a hedgehog will already be hibernating, building by hand gives you the opportunity to find and rescue our prickly friends. If rebuilding is not an option, lift as much as possible and look inside and underneath with a torch looking for movement and signs of life.
You can help hedgehogs have a safe hibernation by providing them with alternative housing options. Either by providing a designated log pile, or building a specific house.
We hope you have a WILD November 5th. Please remember to stay safe and adhere to local firebreak lockdown rules.