Give a hog a home
- Activity time:
- More than 2 hours
- Difficulty level:
- Suitable for:
- Small garden, Large garden, Medium garden
- To help:
Build a cosy hedgehog home, and encourage these prickly yet adorable creatures to rest, hibernate and raise their hoglets in your garden.
It is estimated that there were over 30 million hedgehogs in the UK in the 1950s. But recent estimates suggest there are less than a million left. That’s such a tragedy, especially given that they’re the gardener’s friend, munching their way through pesky slugs.
You can make your hedgehog home when you like, but putting it in place during spring or summer means it will be ready when they're house-hunting in autumn.
Once your hedgehog home is in place, don’t worry if a hedgehog doesn’t move in right away – they are so scarce these days that it may take time. And remember that you won't see any activity between October and March or April, when they’re hibernating.
What you will need
- Two sheets of FSC timber (from a sustainable source) exterior plywood, at least 1.5cm thick, and 60cm wide by 2m long. Note, measurements are for 1.5cm thick wood. Adjust accordingly.
- Nails or screws
- Small handsaw
- Short length of narrow drainpipe
- Dried leaves
Understand the basic principles of a hedgehog home. They should have a large compartment which is insulated from cold and heat, with a smaller entrance corridor which will keep your hedgehogs safe from badgers, dogs or other predators.
- Make your hedgehog home. Cut out sections as shown on the diagram and nail all the pieces together except the roof.
Fill the chamber with a layer of dead, dry leaves. Hedgehogs prefer small leaves such as birch, oak, hawthorn or hazel. Then screw the roof to the box so that you can remove it in future to clean the box out. Place the narrow drainpipe in the hole at the back for ventilation.
You might want to get creative and design one from logs or old packing cases, as long as you follow the basic principles.
- Now you’ve finished making your box, find somewhere suitable to put it. Hedgehogs can be a little fussy about where they live. The box needs to be out of direct sunlight and the front entrance should be out of the wind.
A quiet part of the garden under thick vegetation or behind a shed is ideal.
- Cover the outside in a pile of woody garden cuttings and leaves. You can, if you like, even cover it with soil, leaving just the entrance hole and ventilation pipe free.
- Aftercare. It's worth clearing out the hedgehog home, every year or two. You can do this in April, after their hibernation but before hedgehogs starting producing hoglets. However, the ideal time is in October before they go into hibernation, and after most of the litters have been weaned.
- Monitoring your hedgehog home. Remember that you won't see any activity between October and March/April when they’re hibernating.
If you'd like to find out if your box is being used, put something in front of the entrance that won't blow away but can be easily moved by a hedgehog, like a scrunched-up piece of newspaper. If a hedgehog is at home, you’ll find it will have been moved by the next morning.
Giving a hog a home
Give a hog a home/Saw/Drill/Assemble/Bedding/Hog Heaven