With Halloween out of the way, my kids continue their exciting week with the prospect of a public firework display and possibly a bonfire.
Sunday is the 5th of November, and backyards across Britain will be ablaze, the skies filled with popping, gurgling and fizzing sparkles.
I can only imagine what our wild night flyers make of this... (Photo: RSPB-images.com)
Despite its gruesome origins, Bonfire Night is a high old time for human families - but not so for most other species. It’s not just pets who will be cowering beneath beds in a trembling heap; spare a thought for the wildlife out there in the night, who could be facing one of the most terrifying experiences of their lives.
Bats and owls will be on the wing trying to hunt through deafening bangs; birds will be trying in vain to roost in trees surrounded by multicoloured explosions... and mammals will probably think their time has come.
For the most part, they will escape unscathed, if a little shaken. But one creature that commonly strays into the firing line is the hedgehog. Now that the first frosts are falling, our prickly friends will be tucked away inside woodheaps, snuggled down in a bed of dry leaves… just perfect for a bonfire.
Keep hedgehogs safe from backyard celebrations (Photo: Ben Hall, rspb-images.com)
There’s an easy way to keep them safe from the flames during the festivities, though - and one that must be drilled into every fire-builder across the country.
It is this: Never ignite an existing woodheap. Pile up your fuel, then feed it into an empty fire-space, a piece at a time, and light it before transferring the rest of the fuel across. This way, you can look out for snoozing hogs amid the woodpile as you go along and relocate them to safety.
Don’t make your fire a pyre... (Photo: Dominic_flickr)
Even better, give a hog a home - build or buy a hedgehog hibernarium, and they’ll probably want to upgrade from the woodheap altogether.
Have a great weekend - but keep an eye out for any wildlife that may need help. Tell us all about it if so, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or logging in to comment below.