The Hibernation post: Bonfire night and pumpkins! – by Charlotte Stevenson-Stoddard

A belated happy halloween! We hope you have all had the spookiest of evenings and have enjoyed all this time in Autumn has to offer. This is a quick message from Horace the Hedgehog to catch you up on where our hedgehogs are this time of year as the dark nights draw in and the evenings get colder. 

Before we move into all things bonfire night and hibernation, please do remember to not waste your pumpkins! Carved pumpkins can be placed high up as an excellent bird and squirrel feeder in your garden, or (if you still have the seeds and pumpkin guts freshly scooped) can also make lots of yummy human treats, like soups and pies. 

Just be sure to not leave them on the floor outdoors as our hedgehog friends are hungry and when scavenging can think this is a tasty treat (but pumpkins are actually extremely poisonous to our prickly friends!). 

Here are some more tips from the awesome team over at Nottinghamshire recycles:

Remember, remember, the fifth of November…

… Is lots of fun for fireworks, sparklers and bonfires, but for our animal friends, it can be a little overwhelming. There are lots of loud noises and bright lights, making it a sensory overload for pets and all species outdoors. Here are a few things to keep in mind so that you can enjoy the festivities knowing those who live in the foliage and trees are snuggled up safe and sound. 

  1. Build your bonfire later rather than sooner

It is the opposite of what we come to know when being organised, but keeping your bonfire supplies to one side and building the bonfire later on is actually much safer for our hedgehogs. By building the bonfire as late as possible, or moving a pre-built bonfire a few meters in a different direction, there is time for hedgehogs attempting to nest and sleep to shuffle out and away.

  1. Check your bonfires thoroughly before lighting

The usual perfect hiding spot for a hedgehog will be in the centre or the bottom two feet of the bonfire where materials are packed densely together. Check for hedgehogs by shining a torch gently to check for life, remembering not to poke around with sharp tools such as garden forks as this could harm the hedgehogs inside. 

Note – Other species, such as amphibians like frogs and newts, may also have tried to hide inside. Keep an eye out for them in case they also may need moving away from the bonfire site.

  1. Leave a route for an escape

If you only light one side of the bonfire, then in the incident of a stowaway hedgehog having gotten inside, there is still space and time for them to get out and back to safety. 

Hedgehogs and bonfires

What to do if you find a hedgehog on bonfire night?

If you find a hedgehog hiding in the bonfire or getting close to it, use gardening gloves or a protective hand cover to pick up the hedgehog carefully. Place them in a suitable shelter far away from the bonfire and the noise, with some food and water to keep them comfortable until after the festivities have finished, then release them safely near to where they were found.

If you are worried a hedgehog may be hurt and might need some help, here are some local contacts who will be able to provide assistance:

Withington hedgehog care trust – 07597 510460

RSPCA – 0300 123 0711

Chorley hedgehog rescue centre – 

British hedgehog preservation society – 01584 890 801 

Here is some more information from the fantastic charity Hedgehog Street who created #RememberHedgehogs to spread all the messages shared today in the hibernation post. 

Find out more about hedgehog hibernation in our next post. And for now, take care, spooky friends, and enjoy the fireworks! Local community events for bonfire night can be read about here, and click on the picture below for calming music to keep your pets calm indoors whilst the fireworks take place. 

This blog post was kindly written by a University of Salford Hedgehog Ambassador, Charlotte Stevenson-Stoddard. If you’re interested in joining the Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign and becoming a staff or student ambassadord, please get in touch.

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