Here is why you should add a hedgehog house to your garden…
Whether you are looking to keep a hedgehog as a pet, or more likely to encourage local wild hedgehogs to take shelter in your garden, a hedgehog house is essential to give these shy, cute creatures a space in which they can be comfortable. The cute little creatures need somewhere to hibernate in winter, and you can provide them with somewhere secure and warm just when they need it. By following the advice below, you can make sure they have the perfect nesting place for the colder months of the year.
How to make the perfect hedgehog home:
Keep it in a shaded part of the garden
Above all else, hedgehogs prize seclusion in their sleeping spots. As small creatures, not built for fighting, they are often vulnerable to predators such as foxes and badgers. For this reason, their homes should not be out in the middle of the garden, nor anywhere else that makes them easily accessed. A frequently shady area of your yard is ideal; if there is an area that is a little overgrown then so much the better - our spiky little friends appreciate the undergrowth.
Include an access tunnel
Of course, a hedgehog box needs to be accessible for the creatures themselves, but it is most important to make it securely accessible. An access tunnel measuring about 10cm x 15cm will be large enough to allow any hedgehog easy access and egress when needed, but crucially too small to allow a fox or a badger to make the same journey. It is also important to ensure that you drill a hole in hedgehog houses that allows a pipe to be poked through, allowing the resident(s) a ready supply of fresh air.
Be careful with ponds and pools in the area
Just as important as asking how to make a hedgehog house is another key question: will the hedgehogs be safe in the area around their refuge? One of the biggest dangers for hedgehogs in residential areas comes from garden ponds. If you have a pond in your garden, it is vital to provide an escape ramp made from stones or other stable material so that any hedgehog who gets in can easily get out. Equally, don’t use netting over the pond, as this can trap smaller creatures including our little burrowing friends.
Make your garden accessible & Hedgehog friendly
It is one thing to make the hedgehog house, and to make it easy for hedgehogs to access. However, if your garden is not accessible then there is never going to be a chance for the cute little beasts to find the house you’ve built for them. If there is a fence around your garden, make sure that there is a hole readily available for hedgehogs to move both in and out. Ideally, the hole will be too small for a larger creature such as a fox, badger, or similar predators to get through.
Do not use treated wood to build it
A nice finish may give wood a nicer look, and may even allow it to be more durable, but it is not ideal when it comes to building a haven for hedgehogs. Pre-treated wood often contains compounds which are harmful to many woodland species, including the very creatures for whom you are trying to create a refuge. Reclaimed timber from an ethical source is the best choice for this purpose.
Fit a camera
The surest way to keep hedgehogs away from your garden is to stay around waiting for them, and to move closer for a better look when they do appear. They really are shy little creatures, and for this reason it is a wise step to observe them from a distance. It’s well worth fitting a small camera in hedgehog houses which will allow you to see when you have a hog in residence. One or two such cameras will be perfect for monitoring the house, also allowing you to scare away any predators who may try to stop by.
Make it comfortable for hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are used to bedding down in nature, so leaves and grasses are usually more than acceptable choices. However, in building a hedgehog box you are looking to provide them with more comfort and more security. If there is a chance that a hedgehog will be hibernating in there, you should line the box with warmer bedding such as wood shavings or shredded paper. You should also place some palatable food outside; tinned cat food (ideally not fish-based) is especially popular with hedgehogs.
By providing a safe home for hedgehogs to hibernate, you are making a positive contribution to your local environment - and you’ll be rewarded with the chance to befriend some of nature’s sweetest creatures.