Bear in mind wildlife as well as pets if you’re planning a Bonfire Night celebration in your garden.
Keep an eye out, in particular, for hedgehogs who have made your garden their home.
Chartered horticulturist and broadcaster David Domoney is urging the public to stay safe in the garden and use these tips to protect the wildlife who live there:
Hedgehogs will be attracted to the woodpiles you set up as your bonfire. They are woody and cosy, potential a great place for shelter and food.
But taking precautions will reduce the risk of hedgehogs being hurt.
When building a bonfire, it’s best to build it on the day that you are going to light it. As hedgehogs prefer to wander at night, this will save them and other creatures from settling in.
Before lighting, have a rummage around using a pole or broom and a torch. Choosing a pole or broom is safer than checking with a fork or spade because these tools can harm the hedgehogs if there are any hiding.
Thoroughly check it – particularly the bottom two feet of the structure, which is where hedgehogs are most likely to be found. Listen out for a hissing sound, which is the noise these spiny mammals make when they are disturbed. When lighting, do so from one side only to allow an escape route for anything missed.
In the event that hedgehogs are found, the nest should be placed into a plastic or cardboard box with plenty of towels or newspaper.
When handling hedgehogs, wearing gardening gloves is best because it will protect you s from their spikes and will also save human smells from getting onto the creatures.
Once the hedgehogs are in a safe space, place meaty cat or dog food and water in the box with them, then when the bonfire is done and cooled off, the hedgehog can be released somewhere safe nearby like a hedge or bush.
If you are planning to let off fireworks, remember that the noise causes distress to wild animals and your pets. So, if you don’t have the appropriate space in your garden to use them, don’t set them off.
Remember, don’t be a flaming hedgehog killer. Instead take precautions to protect wildlife and pets this Bonfire Night.