Make Your Own Hedgehog Home
Hedgehog numbers in the UK are plummeting. There were 2 million in the mid 90s, now there are less than 1 million. The good news is that it is easy to do something about it. Unless, that is, you live in central London where there are none left!
All a hedgehog needs to survive the winter is a bit of peace and quiet, sheltered from the worst of the winter weather. A pile of undisturbed leaves and twigs is enough. But for most of us leaving a heap of leaves untouched for the winter is not easy. The wind or the kids will be too eager to redistribute it.
So the most practical solution is a hedgehog house. You can either buy a hedgehog house from us, which is a beautiful curved design which should last for years, or make one. Any hedgehod house is essentially a waterproof box with an entrance which will allow the hedgehogs to enter but not cats or dogs.
Our homemade version is made out of an upside down milk crate, with the inner compartments removed. The crate has been waterproofed with plywood and a piece of central heating pipe used to provide additional ventilation (without this the hedgehogs are in danger of not waking up in the spring) The box height and sides should be around 30cm to 40cm.
To protect the shelter from hedgehog predators, a short tunnel should lead up to the entrance. This can be made from a few bricks, wood or old concrete slabs and should be 10cm wide and 10cm high.
Hedgehogs are hibernating later and later, so there is no need to have the house in place before December. Line it with some newspaper or hay, cover it with plastic if it is not already waterproof and then with leaves and bracken to provide insulation. Then leave it undisturbed until late spring when, all being well, baby hedgehogs will emerge! At this point a saucer of tinned cat food will provide a welcome feast. Recent research has suggested that even if hedgehogs don't have their young in the hedgehog house, they may well use it for shelter from time to time.
To encourage more wildlife in your garden, you might like to consider a bird box or bee pollinator.