A Sussex veterinary nurse has warned families to watch out for hedgehogs this bonfire night.
Menna Field has been a veterinary nurse at St Anne’s Vets in Eastbourne for 12 years and has treated many injured hedgehogs who have been caught up in bonfire blazes.
She has asked families who plan on having their own bonfires to watch out for the creatures and has given her advise on how to protect them.
She said: “Many families will have their own bonfires which are often built up over a period of weeks or days. This creates the perfect hotel for hedgehogs and other small mammals looking for a great place to live.
“If at all possible please re-site your bonfire just before you light it. If not or if you leave your re-sited bonfire for even a small amount of time, try disturbing it with a blunt object like a broom handle.
“Never use a spade or fork as you may end up piercing the poor animal. Then listen carefully for any sounds of movement or a hissing sound as this is the sound they make when they are disturbed.
“If a large bonfire has been built in advance please put chicken wire around it about a metre tall and at an outward angle that would prevent climbing as hedgehogs are surprisingly good climbers.
“Hedgehog numbers are massively in decline and an untold amount are lost each year in bonfires.
“If you do find a hedgehog in your bonfire before it is lit remove them and as much of their nest as you can and place in a cardboard box with air holes punched in it with cat or dog food and some water and place somewhere quiet until it’s all over and there are no burning embers and the hedgehog can then be released.
“Always keep a bucket of cold water nearby should you need it to put anything out.”
For more information visit britishhedgehogs.org.
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