With bonfire night approaching, we should spare a thought for our garden wildlife as hedgehogs and amphibians such as frogs, newts and toads are currently looking for somewhere to hibernate. A pile of logs, wood and leaf litter can be seen as welcome shelter from the elements, but deadly for any creatures that climb inside.
CJ Wildlife offers top tips here on preparing for a fun-filled bonfire night without putting wildlife at risk:
- Try to keep any dry materials off the ground and in small heaps until just before lighting the fire so that you can check as you create your bonfire.
- When building your bonfire in advance, put a simple wire fence around it so that hedgehogs aren’t tempted to climb and hide inside.
- If you have already built your bonfire and it has been left unattended, you must check for wildlife before setting it alight. Hedgehogs are known to hide right in the middle at the bottom of woodpiles, so use a wooden pole to lift sections – much less dangerous than a garden fork.
- Should you come across a ball of leaves you’ve probably found a hedgehog’s winter nest so, wearing gardening gloves, remove any tenants, together with their nesting material and safely place inside a cardboard box with holes in a quiet area of the garden or shed.
- Once the celebrations are over and bonfire has completely finished and is dampened down, you can release the hedgehog with his belongings under foliage or logs with food and water, preferably the same night.
If you’d like to help these creatures prepare for the cold winter months yourself, try making a homemade shelter of logs, sticks and leaves in a quiet part of the garden. Or for a more convenient option, add a purpose-built Hedgehog Feeding House or Eco Hedgehog House. Adding a small pile of fallen leaves close to the entrance should increase the chances of getting a tenant for the winter and the box will get used year after year.
To help hedgehogs prepare a good store of body fat to see them through hibernation you could also provide a special mix designed for hedgehogs, such as this Hedgehog Feast or Hedgehog Starter Set. But avoid putting out milk as this tends to make them ill, so add a supply of fresh water instead.