Help Nature – Build a hedgehog house

Conservation NGO News Wildlife

Hedgehogs hibernate through winter, so they need a shelter from cold weather and hungry predators. They also need a spot to nest to rear their young.

Hedgehogs are the gardener’s friend, as they munch their way through pesky slugs.

There are several ways to provide them with a suitable shelter. Even at the smallest yard.

For this version you will need:

a sheet of wood

about 30 bricks

logs

a spade

You don’t need to buy brand-new materials for this project. See if you or anyone in your local area has old bricks or dry wood you could use.

Find a flat, quiet and shady spot to set up a hedgehog house. An area close to a garden boundary is ideal, such as at the foot of a wall or fence.

Place the box out of direct sunlight, with the entrance facing away from prevailing winds.

If you know where a hedgehog has built it’s own nest in the past, consider putting your new one there, or in a similar environment.

Use a spade to dig a hole about seven centimetres deep and 45 centimeters wide.

Fill the base of the hole with a thin layer of dry leaf litter – dead plant material such as leaves, twigs and bark that have fallen to the ground.

Lay bricks around the outer edge of the hole, making sure to leave a gap for the entrance. Overlap the bricks as you build so that the structure is stable. This should help to prevent predators, such as foxes and cats, from being able to knock the house over.

Lay bricks around the outer edge of the hole, making sure to leave a gap for the entrance.

Build up the walls by placing two layers of bricks on top of the first, overlapping them so the structure is stable. For the tunnel, use two bricks across the gap to make a roof. An entrance tunnel will prevent predators from being able to reach a hibernating or nesting hedgehog.

Place a sheet of wood on top of the house for the roof.

Stack logs on top of the roof to weight it down. Add more logs at the sides of the house for camouflage and to help attract insects, which are an important food source for hedgehogs. You could also add leaf litter for more camouflage.

Resist the temptation to keep removing the lid to check if the box is being used. It’s always best not to disturb any potential hedgehog residents.

Any additional leaf litter near the house may be claimed by a hedgehog and taken inside to be used as extra bedding. Instead of a house, you could simply make a messy patch of leaves and logs in a quiet area of your garden. A hedgehog may choose to hibernate or nest there.

You don’t need to put food or water inside the house. However, if you do like to leave food out for hedgehogs, it’s best to place it a little way away so it doesn’t attract other animals into the house. Never feed hedgehogs milk or bread. They can’t digest them – it upsets their stomachs. A particular favorite is hedgehog food, complete cat biscuits or meaty cat or dog food.

Hedgehogs in the garden

The hedgehog is one of the most familiar garden mammals.

Seldom seen during the day, their nocturnal wanderings take them through several gardens in the evening, where they feed on a variety of invertebrates such as snails and slugs, beetles, caterpillars and worms.

They are very good at running, climbing and swimming. In cold winter weather they will go into hibernation, only emerging when conditions are warmer.

Their nests may be quite large, usually made of mosses, grass, leaves and other garden debris. They can be found at the base of thick hedges, under thick bramble bushes, garden sheds or piles of rubbish.

Read a fairy tale about hedgehogs for your children

Article Source: SABUKO