Bonfire night can be really enjoyable to us humans but it is fair to say it is not the best night of the year for our animal friends! The risk of injury (or worse), unusual sights and loud bangs can be very frightening and unsettling for pets and wildlife. As it is now just under a month away, we have decided to share our top-tips to keep them safe and happy…
KEEP OUR SPIKY FRIENDS SAFE
Bonfire Night can be an especially treacherous night of the year for hedgehogs, especially those who are hibernating. As you’ll have read in our previous post, they love to make their homes in piles of logs and under leaves. Which is obviously what most people use to construct their bonfires with! Please check, check and check again and if you do happen to find any hedgehogs, pick them up wearing gloves and move them to underneath a tree, shrub or somewhere safe and sheltered like our specially constructed hedgehog houses.
MOVE YOUR WILDLIFES HOMES
A good idea is to make an alternative “home” for wildlife now, well in advance of bonfire night. Pile logs or leaves as far away from your proposed plot as possible. This will lure wildlife and amphibians like toads, frogs and newts (who also like log and leaf piles), away from danger. Also move bird feeders, bird tables, bird boxes and hedgehog homes as far away as you can. Check they are not inhabited first and move very carefully if they are.
CHOOSE YOUR LOCATION WISELY
Choose a place for your bonfire that’s far away from trees, shrubs, wild areas and fences and clear the ground of any leaves too. Wildlife love making their homes in leaf piles, so try to avoid these areas as much as possible. Do not place your bonfire close to low hanging branches and bushes. This obviously poses a fire risk but could also allow excess smoke into wildlife’s natural habitats.
LOGS ON FLOOR
When you build your bonfire, lay logs and wood directly on to the ground, not on mounds of leaves. These are a favourite hiding places for hedgehogs as mentioned above but also all different types of creepy crawlies, needed for essential, nutritious snacks by our birds in the winter months!
BUILD ON THE DAY
It is best to build your bonfire on the day, ideally a few hours before you plan to light it. If you've already been building yours up over time or this is not possible, try and move the bonfire to another place on the day. You can also protect nosey wildlife from being able to venture in to the pile, by building a metre fence of chicken wire around it.
CHECK AGAIN BEFORE LIGHTING
Be sure to double check there are no birds, hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts or other creatures under your bonfire before lighting. An easy way to do this is by using a good quality torch and broom handle and lifting sections to check under and inside them.
Always ensure there is a water source close to hand by your bonfire. Not only will this help protect wildlife but will help prevent any other accidents too.
DON'T BURN IT ALL
Don't burn all the wood you have collected. Leave some dead wood and old leaves to the side, to create perfect new habitats for wildlife. Log piles especially are so important, to create natural habitats, as winter looms. They will help to create a fantastic place for hedgehogs to explore and make a home for hibernation.
Set your fireworks off in clear open spaces, away from trees and hedgerows to minimise the disturbance of birds and animals. This is obviously far safer for you too!
PUT IT OUT
Please ensure your bonfire is completely out before leaving it. A large bonfire will produce piles of ash that will remain hot for days afterwards, potentially harming wildlife and humans.
We are sure you will but make sure you clean up your debris. Dead fireworks can trap and injure small animals and pets.
TEMPT WILDLIFE BACK WITH TASTY FOOD
No matter how safe you make your bonfire, wildlife could still be scared away. Make sure you stock up on plenty of wild bird food, hedgehog food and tasty treats to encourage them to quickly return to your garden. We have a fabulous new range of low-cost specially formulated, ethical hedgehog food, that customers have had great results with. This is especially important, at the minute, as our spiky friends try to fatten up for hibernation.