During the last decade, hedgehog numbers in the UK have dropped an alarming 30 per cent and they are now, along with ten other British mammals, officially at imminent risk of extinction.
There are many ways we can help hedgehogs; creating meadows in our gardens, planting hedgehog friendly flowers, and ensuring your garden and neighbour’s garden has an accessible thoroughfare so hedgehogs can move around easily are just a few examples.
Another easy way to help protect hedgehogs is to build a hedgehog house. This ensures a hedgehog can stay safe while they sleep and hibernate, and potentially even raise their hoglets, away from the dangers of garden predators such as badgers, foxes, dogs and cats. With winter and the hibernation period approaching, now is the perfect time to make a hedgehog house in your garden.
All you will need to build a hedgehog house is…
You Will Need
- Large cardboard box with lid and a smaller cardboard box with lid (shoebox size) (1)
- A Stanley knife (1)
- Short section of narrow drainpipe (1)
- Stapler (1), plus staplers
- Polythene sheet (optional)
- Dry leaves, (hay and straw could also work)
Using a Stanley knife, cut a small hole in the larger cardboard box, big enough to fit the short section of narrow drainpipe in. This will provide ventilation for the hedgehog. Cut an archway into both ends of the shoebox and cut a similar archway opening into the front and side of the larger box. Staple the shoebox entrance way, making sure the archway openings align, to the larger cardboard box. Replace the cardboard lids. You will need to cut away one end of the shoebox lid to make it slot back on now it is affixed to the larger box.
Now the basic structure of the hedgehog house is complete, choose a quiet spot, away from wind and direct sunlight. Next to a fence, wall or behind a shed are good places. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even partially bury your hedgehog house into a mound, with the entrance way sticking out, this will make it warmer and long lasting.
Once the perfect location has been found for your hedgehog home, it’s time to fill the main chamber with dry, dead leaves. The RSPB recommends birch, oak, hawthorn or hazel as the most hedgehog friendly. The leaves will keep the hedgehog insulated over the winter while it hibernates and protect vulnerable little hoglets.
You can cover the hedgehog house with a polythene sheet and scatter over more leaves or even soil to make the house look more discreet, but this is optional.
As much as you’d like to, try not to visit the hedgehog house frequently, as this may disturb any hedgehog and hedgehog families inside! Instead, check up on the hedgehog house in April, when hibernation season is over, to give the house a clean and get it ready for any new prickly residents.