WHEN TO BUILD BONFIRES
Please make sure you only build a bonfire on the day you intend to light it. If you want to gather the wood, fine, but even if you stack it up.
Rebuild the bonfire in a different location on the day you want to light it.
Hedgehogs love to sleep in stacks of wood, they chose these as nesting areas and will burrow into the twigs and leaves.
Sadly many are killed or injured when people build bonfires and then days later light them. These animals suffer horrendously when a little patience and human planning to protect them.
ALREADY BUILT YOUR BONFIRE?1
If you have built a bonfire, please check it VERY carefully for hedgehogs – they are not always easy to spot… hence why it is recommended not to build the bonfire until the day of lighting.
Hedgehogs hide in the middle and bottom two feet of the bonfire, so take the time to lift the bonfire in sections, using a broom or similar to gently poke around. NEVER use a sharp instrument such as a spade of garden fork as these can injure the hedgehog.
Make sure you keep a torch with you for searching and listen for the hedgehog. They have a tendency to hiss when they are disturbed and startled.
BIG PUBLIC BONFIRES
Sometimes large public bonfires are built up in advance. In this case take the time to surround the bonfire with chicken wire as a fence. It needs to be at least a metre high and should be staked in place. Hedgehogs are pretty good climbers so make sure the fence is angled to deter climbing.
OTHERS AT RISK
Hedgehogs are not the only ones at risk, other wildlife can hide in bonfires as can family pets and even children who have been playing. ALWAYS check your bonfire thoroughly and as mentioned build it only on the day.
I have rescued a fair number of animals in my time and worked in an animal shelter. Here are somethings to think about:
Hedgehogs are nocturnal so if you see one wandering around during the day it is probably in trouble.
Always wear gardening gloves when handling hedgehogs as their prickles can hurt. Scoop them up gently and put them in a box lined with newspaper. Add some crumbled balls of newspaper in a heap to give them somewhere to hide. They like to hide and this will reduce the hedgehogs stress.
Like all wild animals they are easily stressed when handled by humans or held captive, even when it’s necessary such as when they are injured.
If you are rescuing a hedgehog that is injured or found wandering during the day remember to get it into a box quickly – if the box has a lid make sure their are plenty of air holes (good size holes).
Keep the hedgehog in a quiet, darkened room and don’t disturb him too much.
Contact your local wildlife rescue centre (if you can find one that specialises in hedgehogs even better). If you do not have a local wildlife rescue, contact your local vet immediately and take the animal in. The experts need to look over the animal and are in the best position to help.
If you can take the animal to the shelter immediately then do not feed it or give it water – if the vets need to do anything or give it any medication food and water could affect what can be done.
However, if for some reason you cannot get to a shelter/vets immediately then make sure the hedgehog has fresh water (preferably in a non-tip bowl). NEVER GIVE A HEDGEHOG MILK!!! You can also give it a little cat or dog food (meat flavours only, no fish), remember to use a shallow bowl or plate. If you have mealworms that you feed the birds, you can give them some.
If the hedgehog is cold then you can add a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to the box. Preferably have a box big enough to have a hot water bottle on one side only so if the animal gets too warm it can move off it.
HELP HEDGEHOGS IN YOUR GARDEN
Make a hedgehog friendly area by leaving a section to grow a little wild. Add a log pile that the hedgehog can hide in and search for insects
Get yourself a “Hedgehog Home” there are many garden companies that sell little hoggy homes that you can put leaves into and the hedgehog may use to hibernate in.
Leave out a shallow bowl for drinking water – remember to replace regularly
Never use slug pellets or other nasty chemicals in your garden, these can poison hedgehogs as well as other animals including family pets. Also, if you have a hedgehog they will happily remove the slugs for you.
Be careful with your compost bins, hedgehogs can use these as homes and so don’t use a fork or spade to turn the compost over.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
If you see a hedgehog check to see if it is limping or appears injured or underweight (especially around autumn time). The so-called Autumn juveniles are young hedgehogs that can sometimes be underweight – this means they will most likely not survive hibernation. In which case, they need to be taken to a wildlife rescue centre.
Don’t pick up or disturb a healthy hedgehog. Keep an eye out for hedgehogs out in the day time. Dusk is around the time they get active.
FLEAS & TICKS
Fleas that hedgehogs have are host specific and cannot and will not infect your pets or you (unless you have a pet hedgehog I guess).
Never use a pet flea treatment on a hedgehog
Never attempt to remove ticks from a hedgehog as unless done correctly, can leave the mouth part in the hedgehog’s skin. Most ticks do not cause a problem on hedgehogs unless they have a lot or are very young.
Hedgehogs hibernate from around mid December until the end of March. If you have supplied a log pile and/or a hedgehog house make sure it is in a quiet location and do not disturb that area. Hedgehogs should be left alone during the hibernation period.
If you accidentally disturb a hibernating hedgehog, cover the area up quickly with any dry leaves and light twigs. You might want to leave some water and dog / cat food close by in case the hedgehog has been disturbed enough to wake up.
I hope you found this post helpful. 🙂
Enjoy your little hoggy garden friends