Supporting our hedgehog friendly campus
The change of the seasons has been clear in the last few weeks.
Nights are drawing in, the leaves are now blazing reds, oranges and golds – and there’s a smell of smoke in the air.
Autumn is upon us, and it’s time once more for hats, scarves, heavy boots - and yet another conversation about ‘exactly what is pumpkin spice anyway?’
It’s also a time some of our campus visitors need a little bit of support - for the unexpected challenges that Bonfire Night can throw at them.
If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m talking about Hedgehogs.
We’re among a growing number of universities up and down the country who have signed up to the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme.
You can see more about the scheme here:
It’s really important we do all we can to help hedgehogs – they were classified as vulnerable to extinction earlier this year and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society are calling for the species to be given greater legal protection. You can find out more – and back their campaign – here.
With that in mind, we’ve already got a small group of staff and students working together to help our local hedgehogs – and more volunteers signed up at WGU’s recent socially-distanced Fresher’s Fair. Staff and students have already reported hedgehog sightings – both near their homes and, tantalisingly, on at least two of our campuses!
In the coming weeks and months we’ll be running various events to help the hedgehogs which live near us – including hedgehog surveys, litter-picks to keep things clean for our prickly visitors, and information events and sessions. You can join in some of these at home, and if you’re a Glyndwr student, we’d love for you to join us - simply email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Activities will be held throughout the year.
However, the autumn does pose some additional challenges for hedgehogs – particularly Bonfire Night.
The places they choose to hibernate (or just to sleep) - nestled among logs, leaves and sticks – mean they can find themselves trapped in bonfires – and no-one wants to set fire to a hedgehog as part of their November 5 celebrations.
We’d encourage you not to have a Bonfire at all - in a normal year, we'd suggest you go to an organised display instead (displays are not allowed under coronavirus restrictions preventing large gatherings.)
However, if you are planning one this year - or any year - or, indeed, a garden fire at any point - what can you do to help?
- Build bonfires or re-site bonfires on the day they are to be lit. Move your bonfire material to clear ground – as piles of leaves may themselves contain hedgehogs.
- Check for hedgehogs in any bonfire before lighting. Gently lift the bonfire section by section with a pole or broom – don’t use garden spades or forks as they can injure hedgehogs. Use a torch and listen for a hissing sound – hedgehogs will make this if disturbed.
- If you do find a hedgehog, pull on your garden gloves (to protect them from the smell of humans, and you from their spikes!) Gently lift the hedgehog and as much of their nest as possible and place in a high-sided cardboard or plastic box, with specialist hedgehog food or meaty cat or dog food and water. Ensure there are air holes in the lid – you may be surprised at how good at climbing hedgehogs are! Place the box somewhere quiet and safe – such as a shed or garage – until after the bonfire has been held and damped down totally. Release the hedgehog safely under a bush, hedge or stack of logs.
- Light bonfires from one side only and keep people away from that side to offer hedgehogs and other wildlife a chance to escape.
And – once Bonfire Night is over – do drop the Wrexham Glyndwr University Hedgehog Friendly Campus team a line and join us working to make things better for our local hogs.