To save hedgehogs and other wildlife from terrible injuries, bonfires should not be built until the day they are to be lit.
If, whilst building a bonfire it is left unattended, for however short a time it’s imperative to check for hedgehogs and other animals, including family pets, before lighting. As hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, check by gently lifting the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom. Never use a spade or fork as these can stab them. Using a torch will help and listen for a hissing sound as this is the noise they make when disturbed.
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 secured firmly 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. Put the box in a safe place such as a shed or garage well away from the festivities. In case you have missed anything light the fire from one side only as this gives them a chance to escape. Once the bonfire is totally dampened down, release the hedgehog under a hedge, bush or behind a stack of logs.
If you find an injured hedgehog, please take it to your nearest wildlife centre or bring it to us.