Feed hedgehogs in a DIY hedgehog café
With the UK population of hedgehogs declining alarmingly, it’s vital that we give our prickly friends a home in our gardens. Feed the hungry hogs in your garden to help them build energy for raising hoglets, and fat reserves for their long winter hibernation. One way to do this is to build a feeding station in your garden with lots of hedgehog-friendly food and water. 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.
Find a safe place for your cafe. You will need a sheltered spot. Before they find shelter, hedgehogs need to be able to get in and out of your garden to start with. Start by creating nature's highways and byways.
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 in, along with food and water bowls. A plastic storage box is a popular choice. You can also install a tunnel to prevent cats or foxes stealing the food.
Create a hedgehog-sized hole at the base of one of the sides of your box. It should be about 13cm 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. Cover the edges of the hole with duct tape to make sure there are no sharp bits that could hurt your hedgehogs.
Add your grub. At sunset, lay shallow dishes of hedgehog-friendly food and water inside the box. Only put out small amounts of food, as this is supplementary to their natural diet. Never feed hedgehogs milk or bread as they can't digest it and it upsets their stomachs.
Be aware that putting any food out will attract all sorts of wildlife including predators, not just hedgehogs. Look out for hedgehog poo around the outside of the box, to help determine if you have hedgehogs or rats.
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 fox tipping the box up or dragging it away.
Clear away any food in the morning and refill your dishes every evening, or for as long as the food is being eaten. Make sure to wash your hands and thoroughly wash the feeding dishes, as hedgehogs can spread diseases.
Time to watch. Very quietly as the sun goes down, go out and sit somewhere within view of the box and hopefully you'll be rewarded with a view of this snuffling, grunting little beauty. Next why not give a hog a home?