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Hedgehogs in a Hot Spot

Credit Adrian Clarke

[W]HIZZ, BANG, CRACKLE! It’s time to light those fireworks again but beware of sending the UK’s favourite mammal up in flames too.

Hedgehogs love to snuggle up in a pile of autumn leaves, twiggy prunings or a bonfire ready to be lit on Guy Fawkes Night, and so Cumbria Wildlife Trust is calling on everyone to ensure that hedgehogs are not harmed during your bonfire night celebrations.

Bonfire night provides explosive entertainment for us, but is potentially lethal for many creatures, including hedgehogs, looking to settle down for a seasonal snooze. Cumbria Wildlife Trust is encouraging all community bonfire organisers and families with back garden celebrations to include a simple hedgehog check in their routine safety procedures.

David Harpley, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Manager, says: “Hedgehogs start preparing for hibernation in early November when temperatures regularly drop below 16 degrees.  They use twigs, leaves and dry grasses to build a cosy winter nest and may move to a new site at least once during the winter months. To a sleepy hedgehog, a ready-made nest such as a compost heap or a pile of timber seems ideal and a newly built bonfire will look like the perfect place to bed down.”

Cumbria Wildlife Trust has put together a few simple steps to take to ensure the winter nests of the UK’s only spine covered mammal don’t go up in smoke this year:

Build the bonfire on the day you are going to light it. Make your pile of material next to the bonfire site and re-build the stack prior to lighting.

Before lighting, search the bonfire for hibernating creatures using a torch and rake, to gently pull back twigs or vegetation.

Move any hedgehogs found to a ready-made hedgehog box or leaf and twig pile.

Before bonfire night create an alternative hedgehog home by placing a hedgehog box nearby or rake grass cuttings and autumn leaves into a pile. You can find out more about how to help hedgehogs here.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is concerned about the decline of hedgehog numbers across the county and is asking people to log their sightings online at http://hedgehogs.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/

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