IF you are having a bonfire this weekend, make sure you check for hidden wildlife before you strike a match, a leading animal rescue charity has warned.

Secret World Wildlife Rescue, based in East Huntspill, is urging people to think about any wildlife that could be lurking in heaps of wood and debris, particularly if the bonfire has been sitting about for a week or two.

Bonfire night, otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Night, is held on November 5 every year and is widely celebrated across the UK with firework displays and bonfires.

Samantha Hannay, head of external relations for the charity, said: “We are asking members of the public to take two minutes before lighting a bonfire to make sure no animals have tucked themselves in for the night.

“We’re fantastic at keeping our loved ones safe, but we must never forget about the little wild animals which are vulnerable at this time of year. Those 120 seconds could save many animals.”

The charity says smaller species of animals are at most risk, particularly hedgehogs and they are expecting to admit more than 200 poorly and injured hedgehogs this year.

“With winter temperatures starting to bite, many small animals spend their days and evenings tucked away for warmth, particularly hedgehogs,” Samantha said.

“Hedgehogs are beautiful animals, but they are sadly in long-term decline. We need to make every effort to reverse this, starting this weekend.”

If you find a wild animal that needs help, Secret World offers a free advice service from 8am to 8pm every day, and in the most severe cases, admits poorly animals to its rescue centre for treatment and rehabilitation.

To donate to Secret World Wildlife Rescue to help them rescue and rehabilitate more animals, call 01278 783250.