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Remember, remember, hedgehogs are hibernating

Wednesday 1st November 2017

Hedgehog in leaves (credit Tom Marshall)Hedgehog in leaves (credit Tom Marshall)

Historian Tom Holland urges Londoners to help avoid harming hedgehogs on Bonfire Night

As Londoners get ready to celebrate Bonfire Night on 5th November, London Wildlife Trust Ambassador and historian Tom Holland is reminding anyone lighting fires to keep watch for hibernating hedgehogs.

Since there is nothing hedgehogs like more than a compact mound of leaves and wood, they easily mistake bonfire piles for the equivalent of a luxury hotel

Piles of wood, such as those built for bonfires, can provide an ideal habitat for hedgehogs, which at this time of year are searching for somewhere to shelter over winter. These nocturnal mammals cannot distinguish normal wood piles from those intended for fires – so it is vital they are checked before lighting.

A few simple steps can help avoid harming hedgehogs during Bonfire Night:

  • Build your fire as soon before lighting as possible;
  • Check the wood pile for hedgehogs before lighting;
  • Carefully remove any hedgehogs found and place in a high-sided box until safe to return.

Tom Holland, London Wildlife Trust Ambassador, says: “Remember, remember, the fifth of November – but please remember hedgehogs as well. This is the time of year when they prepare for hibernation, looking for a quiet, cosy spot to curl up in for winter. Since there is nothing hedgehogs like more than a compact mound of leaves and wood, they easily mistake bonfire piles for the equivalent of a luxury hotel. Then, once flames start to spread, they are powerless to escape. So please leave building bonfires to the last minute; do not make them on rotting leaves; and be sure to check before lighting. Burn the Guy – not a hedgehog.”

Tom Holland helps install a hedgehog tunnel for surveying at Sydenham Hill Wood (credit Daniel Greenwood)Hedgehogs are declining in Britain, with numbers falling from around 30 million in the mid-20th century to less than one million today. In the capital, hedgehogs are now almost unknown in central London – with the only recorded breeding population in Regent’s Park – and in the suburbs they are increasingly vulnerable.

This year the Trust has launched a new project, Urban Urchins, which aims to provide a comprehensive picture of where hedgehogs are living in Greater London. With the help of the public submitting sightings, and a team of volunteers surveying hedgehog habitats around the capital, we hope to gain a better understanding of their distribution – and develop a strategy for their revival.

 

For more information about hedgehogs in London and how you can help them, visit wildlondon.org.uk/hedgehog
 

Tagged with: Species, Hedgehog