Come Guy Fawkes night, the nation's hedgehog-lovers pray for rain.
As thousands across the country prepare piles of wood and leaves for a roaring bonfire in celebration of an event that took place some 400 years ago, our much loved hedgehogs are making preparations of their own as they look for a dry, warm place to hibernate this winter.
The result - an unintended hog roast as we build these poor creatures the perfect home then set it on fire. Somewhat ironic when you consider we do this in celebration of the fact that lives were saved from a fiery death nearly half a century ago.
Hedgehogs need out help
There’s now fewer than 1 million hedgehogs thought to be left in Britain. That’s a staggering 20 million drop in their numbers since 1950, mainly due to the over-tidying of parks and gardens, removal of hedgerows, use of chemical pesticides, loss of green space to development and road casualties.
For this reason, anything we can do to help is important. So to prevent a spike in hedgehog deaths at this time of year please follow our simple steps below, whatever the size of your bonfire.
Avoiding a hedgehog house fire
Create an alternative home nearby by raking up autumn leaves into a pile a safe distance from the bonfire.
Build your bonfire as close to the day you are going to light it as possible so there is less chance of a hedgehog moving in. You could loosely stack a pile of material next to the bonfire site and build it on the day.
If it has to be build in advance, create an exclusion zone around your bonfire using chicken wire. Hedgehogs are good climbers – so make your fence at is least 1m high and set it at an outwards facing angle to make it hard to climb.
Check your bonfire carefully with a torch before you light it.
Move any hedgehogs found to a pre-prepared hedgehog box somewhere safe - Hedgehog home instructions can be found here.
More ways to hep our hogs
From cutting garden chemicals to creating a hedgehog highway, protecting hedgehogs during bonfire night isn't the only way to give our hogs a helping hand.