AN animal sanctuary boss is urging people to check their bonfires for hedgehogs before Guy Fawkes Night celebrations get underway.

Rosie Catford, of Thorrington-based Wildlives animal rescue centre, says bonfires make the perfect hide-outs for the endangered mammals and fears they could end up being burned alive unless revellers take precautions.

"Many hedgehogs have their second litter of babies a this time of year," said Rosie.

"Bonfires are the ideal sleeping place for them during the day. They crawl in, curl up and have a good sleep, then people come along and light their bonfires and it's the end of the hedgehogs and any other wildlife that might be sleeping or sheltering in there.

"We just want people to be aware that hedgehogs and other small mammals and reptiles can be in the bottom of their bonfires.

"The best thing to do is to move the bonfire on the day it is going to be lit so you can search through the bottom of it, or go through it with a rake to make sure their are no animals in there.

"Hedgehogs are red on the endangered list and in danger of becoming extinct in the next ten years.

"The last thing you want to do is burn them alive."

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

  • Katherine Tang looking after orphaned hedgehogs at Wildlives

Rosie says the popular mammals are suffering because of the loss of habitats and pesticides used in intensive farming.

She added: "Their numbers are in really steep decline so we need everyone to make sure they are still here for future generations."