Keep an eye out for hedgehogs this bonfire night

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The area will be full of spooks and sparks fun over the coming days as Halloween and Bonfire Night-themed events pop up at locations around the area.

Young and old alike will be looking to celebrate the spooky goings-on by trick-or-treating or enjoying a party.

But with bonfires set to be lit in gardens all across the region for Halloween garden parties or Guy Fawkes Night, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society has launched a plea for people to look out for harmless animals.

Hedgehogs in particular love to use bonfire piles as a place to sleep. And the society has urged people planning bonfires to make sure they only build it on the day they intend to light it.

“To save hedgehogs and other wildlife from appalling suffering, we urge that bonfires should not be built until the day they are lit,” said a spokesperson. This will not only save wildlife from burning to death, but will also stop the bonfire from getting soaked should it rain the night before.”

The chief executive of the society, Fay Vass, added: “If material is stored on open ground in advance of having a bonfire, it’s crucial to dismantle it and move it to another spot just before lighting.

“Ensure it’s moved to clear ground - never on top of a pile of leaves as there could be a hedgehog underneath - and not too close to pampas grass, which can ignite very easily and is another favourite spot for hedgehogs to hide under.”

Hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of a bonfire, so check by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom. Never stab the pile.

Using an electric torch will help, and listen for a hissing sound, as this is the noise they make when disturbed.

Fay continued: “If hedgehogs are found, take as much of the nest as you can and place them in a high-sided cardboard box with plenty of newspaper/old towelling.

“Ensure there are air holes in the lid and that the lid is firmly secured to the box, as hedgehogs are great climbers.

“Ideally 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 you hands from their spikes.

“Put the box in a safe place such as a shed of garage well away from the festivities.

“In case you have missed anything, light the fire from one side only.

“Once the bonfire is totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs.”

Going to an official organised fireworks display is a far safer option for both humans an animals.

For mor einformation call the society on 01584 890 801 or visit www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.