A VET is appealing to people to check their bonfires for hedgehogs before lighting them – and is offering the spiky creatures a haven in his garden.
Russell Hall, of Avonvale Vets, which has six practices across Warwickshire, said celebrations around bonfire night on November 5 represented bad news for the diminishing hedgehog population.
A survey carried out by BBC Gardeners’ World magazine earlier this year revealed a major decline in garden sightings of hedgehogs. A population which once stood at an estimated 30million in the 1950s is now down to fewer than 1million – with a third of that loss thought to have taken place in the past decade.
Russell, a clinical director at Avonvale’s Wellesbourne practice, has been looking after injured hedgehogs at his home ever since two patients were brought into the surgery several years ago.
Now, he allows the hedgehogs to roam free in his garden, which has the added bonus of helping rid his flower beds of slugs.
Russell said: “Hedgehog numbers have been rapidly diminishing and they need our help to survive. They are particularly at risk at this time of year, as they search for places to hibernate,
“Often, they choose to go to sleep in piles of garden refuse set aside for burning or bonfires. I’d urge people to take simple steps such as disposing of rubbish responsibly and checking areas thoroughly before embarking on your November 5 celebrations.
“I’d also advise against building bonfires too early, as there is a very real danger a hedgehog will have chosen it as the perfect, cosy place to hibernate.
“We can all do our bit to help hedgehogs – and I’ll be doing the same by making space for them in my garden once again.”
Visit the British hedgehog Preservation Society website – www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk – for more information about hedgehogs, and how to protect them,
Anyone who comes across a hedgehog in need of help can call Avonvale’s Wellesbourne practice on 01789 841072.