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firework night and wildlife

Guy Fawkes Night and Wildlife

November is about celebrating the turn of the season and often involves fireworks and bonfires. But for wildlife such as birds and hedgehogs firework night can be a stressful time!

firework night wildlife

Having a bonfire is an outdoor event, and this can disturb the natural habitat of various creatures. On firework night, birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife are often overlooked, as the main focus is on pets. However, it can cause just as much distress to them.

If you are planning on having a bonfire, it is best to leave setting it up to the last minute. This is because wild birds and other wildlife may look for somewhere warm to take shelter. Please check the surrounding area for any nesting and roosting sites. Make sure to keep clear from them to avoid any disturbance.

Be sure not to hang Catherine wheels on trees. Put them on fences and out the way in open areas so as to not disturb any wildlife.

Looking out for Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs can be at risk from fires. These endangered spiny mammals are the gardener’s friend, gobbling-up slugs and caterpillars. Therefore it is vital to ensure they don’t come to harm when lighting a bonfire.

guy fawkes night hedgehogs

The safest way to have a bonfire – and prevent hedgehogs entering the pile prior to lighting – is to use a galvanised garden incinerator. If you want to make a bonfire, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) recommends encircling the pile of garden waste with chicken wire, at least one metre high. Hold it in place using wooden stakes. The wire should slope outwards at an angle to prevent hedgehogs climbing to gain access.

The BHPS also reminds gardeners that hedgehogs love to hide in the centre and lower two feet of a bonfire. They suggest using a pole or broom to lift material (but never a garden fork) and check that none are present before lighting. Arm yourself with a torch if necessary. If you do find a hedgehog nesting, use gloves to pick it up and move it to somewhere there is shelter, like under a tree.

With fewer than a million hedgehogs thought to be remaining in the UK, making gardens hedgehog friendly is a high priority. Simple acts such as leaving a small pile of logs and leaves in a quiet corner will make a comfy shelter. The RSPCA recommends that gardeners create a simple hedgehog home by placing a piece of board against a wall. If you don’t have materials to hand, hedgehog houses are widely available at garden centres. They give a balance of insulation and ventilation, creating a snug, safe habitat for nesting and also winter hibernation.

Gardman Woven Hedgehog House firework night wildlife

After Firework Night

When the fun is over, leave the dead wood and old leaves as piles for wildlife to nest in and keep warm. Please also make sure to pick up any waste or discarded wrappers as the plastic can be very dangerous to wildlife.

After firework night, why not also nip to your local garden centre and pick up some bird or hedgehog food to give our wildlife a treat. Many gardening folk are well versed in feeding wild birds all year-round, but it’s during the coldest months that daily feeding becomes critical to our feathered friends’ survival. Hedgehogs also need more food during autumn and winter so they can put enough weight on ready for hibernation.

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