How To Protect Hedgehogs This Bonfire Night and Halloween?

How To Protect Hedgehogs This Bonfire Night and Halloween?
Photo by Alexas_Fotos / Unsplash

Remember, remember! The fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and hedgehogs? I know of no reason why the hedgehogs should ever be forgotten!

While my adaptation of The fifth of November folk verse may not catch on; we need to support hedgehogs during Halloween and Bonfire Night. While many people trick or treat and attend bonfires, the humble hedgehog is at risk. However, the news should not haunt you because we can all help hedgehogs by taking a few precautions.


When you mention the words Halloween, you may think of films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, dressing up or carving pumpkins. While data varies between sources, at least 15.8 to 30 million pumpkins are purchased each year. Pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween; where they can be found on doorsteps or front windows; illuminated by a flickering candle.

Ebru Surucu-Balci an Assistant Professor in Circular Supply Chains at the University of Bradford wrote an article for The Conversation about pumpkins. Her article states that 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins will go to waste in the UK alone. Furthermore, Dr Ebru Surucu-Balci wrote that for every kilo of squash produced, around 260 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases are emitted. When pumpkins decompose in a landfill, they emit methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

orange pumpkins on gray field near green grassland at daytime selective focus photography
Photo by Marius Ciocirlan / Unsplash

But what has this to do with hedgehogs? Unfortunately, pumpkins are often forgotten and left to rot on people's doorsteps. Heather from The Hedgehog Registry explains that pumpkins are naturally full of nutrients; an article by BBC Future suggests pumpkins could be a future superfood. However, superfood pumpkins stop short for hedgehogs where the nutrients are unsuitable for them. Heather goes on to say that pumpkins contain high levels of fibre. Whilst pumpkins are not toxic or poisonous, they can cause stomach upsets, dehydration, and weight loss. Finally, Sky News reported that the Woodland Trust and Forestry England warned people that the fruit could lead to severe problems for creatures.

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Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is the time of year when hedgehogs are looking for somewhere to hibernate for the winter. Unfortunately for the humble hedgehogs, piles of wood that people have stacked up ready to set ablaze to mark Guy Fawkes Night, can look like the perfect contenders. Written in iNewsSally Guyoncourt cites Fay Vass, the chief executive of The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, who is appealing for people to take action to save lives. Sally says that hedgehogs tend to hide in the centre and bottom two feet of the bonfire, and they have little chance of escaping once it is lit. Fay Vass asks if people can “move any bonfire material to a clear site before it is lit and just before you are about to light it lift bits of firewood and use a torch to look for signs of life.”

fireworks at nighttime
Photo by Elisha Terada / Unsplash

This advice is echoed by Laura Howard, writing for the BBC, who advises people to construct their bonfires on the day they are lit. Laura says that this will save wildlife from a painful death and stop the bonfire from getting soaked through in the rain. The Wildlife Trusts also recommend constructing your bonfire on the day they are to be lit. However, if a bonfire has to be built in advance, Michele Jameson says it can be protected using chicken wire one metre high around the bottom.

The Wildlife Trust wrote a guide to help you keep hedgehogs safe, which I have linked to. To better educate people, The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) has made posters which you can download.