It's time to invite some friends round for a meal, but make sure you're the host with the most...
Hedgehogs are one of our cutest garden visitors and you can support the hungry hogs in your garden by helping them build the energy they need when raising hoglets, and their fat reserves for their long winter hibernation.
With the UK population of hedgehogs declining alarmingly, it’s vital that we give our prickly friends a home in our gardens.
If you don't have a garden, you could try to find a hidden spot in a local park or green-space and set up a cafe there. You could return the next day to see what's visited - maybe even using your tracks and signs skills!
You won't get any takers in winter when all your hogs are fast asleep, but you can start your feeding at any other season if there are hogs around.
Are you doing this activity as part of your ild Challenge? Take a look at your progress and go for gold!
Did you know That a hedgehog's spikes are called quills and an average hog will have between 5,000 and 7,000 of them on its back!
What you will need
For the station:
- Large-lidded plastic or wooden box
- Sharp knife or saw (and an adult to use it!)
- Duct tape
For the grub:
- Shallow dishes
- Wet cat or small dog food (not fish- or beef-based)
- Crushed cat biscuits
- Specific hedgehog food
- Find a safe cosy place for your cafe. It should be in a quiet, sheltered and safe spot. Of course, hedgehogs need to be able to get in and out of your garden to start with, so if that isn't yet the case, start by creating small access holes into your garden so that hedgehogs can get in and out.
- Get a sturdy box (wood or plastic) with a removable lid for your feeding station. It needs to be big enough for a hedgehog to fit through, but small enough to keep any curious cats or foxes out!
Create a hedgehog-sized hole at the base of one of the sides of your box. It should be about 13 cm square so the hog can get in and out safely. If your box is wooden, you’ll need a saw. If your box is plastic, carefully use a sharp knife - remember to get an adult to help you with this bit!
Cover the edges of the hole with duct-tape to make sure there are no sharp bits which could hurt your hedgehogs.
- Add your grub. Line the box with newspaper and dry leaves. (Hedgehogs prefer small-sized leaves such as birch, oak and hazel.) As the sun goes down lay shallow dishes of hedgehog-friendly food and water inside the box.
- Make sure you don’t put out too much food, as it’s not good to have leftovers lying around. Put out a little to start with, and if your cafe is popular, you can gradually increase the amount on the menu!
- Never feed hedgehogs milk or bread. They can't digest them - it upsets their stomachs.
- Add your roof. Put the lid on top of the box and place a brick or two on top of the lid. This will stop a hungry fox tipping the box up or dragging it away.
- Clear away any leftovers in the morning and refill your dishes every evening. But keep your eyes out! If you think that anything other than a hedgehog is eating the food, stop feeding.
- Time to watch. Very quietly as the sun goes down, go out and sit somewhere within view of the box and hopefully you'll spot a snuffling, grunting little beauty.
- Don't forget to tell us when you have completed the activity! When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo to help earn your award.
Completing the activity
Use the 'Mark as complete' button at the top of this page to tell us you've completed your activity. You'll need to show us what you did by uploading a photo of your hedgehog cafe, either complete or your family making it or, if you’re lucky a photo of a hedgehog using it. But please don’t disturb any munching hogs!