At this time of year hedgehogs are starting to scout out hibernation spots and are often drawn to their nearest unlit bonfire. If you’re making a bonfire to celebrate Guy Fawkes night or burning garden rubbish please look out for hiding hedgehogs before starting the fire. The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reports that hedgehog numbers are in decline due to a loss of habitat, development pressures, possible loss of food sources due to intensive farming and the possible effects of slug pellets. And hedgehogs have recently joined the red squirrel and bottlenose dolphin on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan list of species in need of conservation and greater protection.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust advises people to help protect hedgehogs by following these guidelines when building a bonfire:
• Build the bonfire as close to the night as possible so there’s less chance of a hedgehog moving in
• Make your pile of material next to the bonfire site and re-build the stack before lighting it
• Search the bonfire for hibernating creatures using a torch and rake before starting the fire
• Move any hedgehogs found to a ready-made hedgehog box or somewhere dry and safe away from the fire
• Before bonfire night make an alternative hedgehog home by raking up grass cuttings or autumn leaves into a pile a safe distance from the fire. Hopefully sleepy ‘hogs will choose to snooze there instead of the bonfire.
I must admit I’d not given much thought to hedgehogs before coming across these lovely little knitted fellas made by Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits (click on the photo to go straight to the post they feature on). Julie is a master knitter and has a pattern for these hedgehogs, come pin cushions, in her Etsy shop and I have it at the ready for when I go into hibernation from the garden. Julie donates a portion of the profits from the sale of this pattern to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and it got me thinking about who my local hedgehog charity might be. If you’re in Gloucestershire too and wondered where spiky waifs and strays end up check out Oak and Furrows Wildlife Rescue Centre. They have some really interesting articles about being hedgehog aware to create gardens for happy hedgehogs and why hedgehogs hibernate (so we don’t try to rescue every hedgehog spotted out and about in winter uneccesarily).
Other useful ‘hoggy links
- make your own hedgehog home fact sheet from Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital or use wooden wine crates and hosepipe.
- various ready made hedgehog houses are available on-line – a Hogitat, a wicker house, a wooden house
- become a hedgehog foster carer (most animal charities need foster carers for all sorts of baby wild animals)
- Bonfire night poster produced by the British Hedgehog protection society
© Harry hedgehog photo taken by Tim, British Hedgehog Protection Society.