Maybe not the first animal we consider on bonfire nights but spare a thought for these little bundles. Horsham-based international wildlife charity Born Free is reminding people to look out for hedgehogs who might be in trouble at this time of year.
At the end of October hedgehogs start looking for a place to hibernate, and with Guy Fawkes’ Night just around the corner, a pile of dry leaves in the garden or an unlit bonfire are attractive places for a sleepy hedgehog looking for somewhere to build its nest.
Hedgehogs can die or suffer awful injuries through contact with bonfires
Born Free’s Tarnya Knight says: “Hedgehog populations are in decline in the UK, so it’s important to be vigilant at this time of year and protect these amazing creatures. Hedgehogs can die or suffer awful injuries through contact with bonfires, so we’re asking people to take some simple precautions to avoid causing them any harm.”
So give that pile of leaves a good poke before setting it on fire, and build the pile on the day you’re going to burn it. If you find a hog, pop it in a box in a quiet dark place, with some meaty dog or cat food and some water til the celebrations are over.
Autumn is often a tough time for hedgehogs, especially underweight ones who aren’t fattened up properly for hibernation, so keep an eye out. If you see a hedgehog in the daytime, that’s a warning sign as they’re nocturnal, so it’ll need your help.
Tarnya says “We’d advise anyone who finds a young or underweight hedgehog at this time of year, or spots a hedgehog out during the day, to contact their local wildlife rescue centre, vet or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk) for advice.”
There are very few dogs who breeze through the seasons of bangs and fizzes without concern, so the Dogs Trust in Shoreham have come up with some tips to help your furry friend make it through with as little stress as possible.
Building a ‘doggy den’ can really help your dog feel safe and secure during the noises. Dogs Trust Director of Canine Behaviour and Research, Dr Rachel Casey, explains how creating a safe environment can help.
“Many of us enjoy the experience of fireworks but for our dogs it’s often a terrifying experience. Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than us, and also have a more extensive range of hearing – they can hear much higher frequency sounds than we can – so just imagine how loud a firework bang is for a dog.
“The smells and flashing light of fireworks are also unusual for dogs. Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright, and this cocktail of effects can often have a profoundly negative impact on dogs.
One tip we have for concerned dog owners is to create a doggy den, a haven where dogs can feel safe and secure
“One tip we have for concerned dog owners is to create a doggy den, a haven where dogs can feel safe and secure. The doggy den should be built away from hubbub of the family home, somewhere quiet where the dog can rest peacefully. This will very much be a safe space for the dog, but they should be able to move in and out of the den freely; making it as cosy and snug as possible is a must, but your doggy should be able to see out of the den should she want to.
“Concerned owners should seek veterinary advice before fireworks night if their dogs are very scared or panic due to fireworks.”
Top tips on creating a Doggy Den:
· Use an indoor dog crate or chairs and/or a table covered in blankets to create the safe space – using blankets over the top will help muffle the bangs
· Fill the den with soft blankets, pillows and a few familiar items that smell of your dog to make him feel comfortable, a few items smelling of their owner would be a bonus
· Make sure your dog has access to clean drinking water in their den, a non-slip bowl would be an advantage to avoid spills
· Add some of their favourite toys to the den; they have positive associations with them so will help them feel at ease
· Keep a radio or the TV playing as this will help to mask the sounds of the fireworks outside
Dogs Trust has created a video demonstrating the best way to build a doggy den, you can view it here and also read more about fireworks advice on their dedicated webpage.
The charity would love to see images and videos of your Doggy Dens. Tweet @DogsTrust and @DT_Shoreham