Death by fire

1st of August is not only the national holiday of Switzerland but also the day on which, unfortunately, the most animals are burned alive every year. Animals that are heavily affected are hedgehogs, slow worms, toads, frogs, newts and others. The problem is that the piles of wood for the fires are set up early, that is, a day or more before the holiday. The animals in search of shelters hide in it and then burn later in agony. Among the nature conservationists and animal-rights activists, the hedgehog conservationists are the most active in this issue. Rarely the burned animals are seen (cf. Figure 1), often they burn unrecognized.

Figure 1: A hedgehog could only be recovered dead from the fire.

Setting up the wood piles one day before the holiday reduces the probability, but does not eliminate it. Often people think the probability is low. If ten wood piles stand for one day, it is comparable to one wood pile standing for ten days. You can’t really enjoy the fire with this uncertainty. The wood piles should be piled up or rearranged immediately before lighting and not one night or several days before. If this is not possible, the wood pile should be secured for wild animals by a fence (cf. Figure 2). Larger animals such as foxes, badgers, martens, deer, etc. could possibly climb over the fence in Figure 2. The association “” recommends a protective fence with the height of 30-40 cm.

Figure 2: A fence should prevent animals (vertebrates) from being burned here. The fence is removed just before the fire.
© Schweizer Tierschutz STS

On the national holiday, not only numerous fires are made, but also fireworks are let off. The popping fireworks thereby stress the animals especially birds enormously. Those who do not want to do without fireworks can use pyrotechnics such as volcanoes or Bengal matches instead of popping fireworks such as rockets.


The national holiday is unfortunately still the annual animal burning day. It is positive that the protection campaigns are supported by hedgehog lovers and animal rights activists.