The whole point to a hedgehog house is to attract our little friends into our garden, and generally promote wildlife at the same time. You stand a considerably higher chance of success in obtain a visit from our spikes friends if you know what they like, their sleeping and feeding habbits, what makes them feel safe, and in general the most comfortable as well as how they nurse their young.
So in this article we will go through those key points giving ourselves the best possible chance of being visited 🙂 But not just that, by understanding how a hedgehog likes to live you’ll understand just how interesting and lovely they are.
Where should I put a hedgehog house?
Hedgehogs don’t like a cold breeze, so the best possible place to start looking for a home is anywhere facing a Southerly direction, perhaps a Westerly if that’s not possible. Once you’ve established a few potential sites for your hedgehog house then it’s time to take a few more preferences into consideration:
Firstly they are going to want to come out of an entrance that feels sheltered and covered from predators. Badgers and foxes are their main predators and are a real threat. They will certainly try to turn your hedgehog into a meal. So knowing this, if you put your hedgehog house in an uncluttered, open environment you are almost certainly not going to get a visit.
By contrast, cover from a bush, plants, or even a series of shrubs will really increase your chances. You can always get yourself a wildlife camera to film if you do not have a direct view and then take a look at my post on how to film hedgehogs at night for more info.
Carefully and strategically pick your position based on how noisy your children or neighbours are. Like all wildlife they will be easily scare away by noise or perceived threat. If your neighbours have a lot of noisy things going on then you want to bring your hedgehog house as far away as possible from that but within the bounds of what we’ve already discussed above. By contrast if your kids are noisy move the hedgehog home as far away from you as possible. If everyone is noisy then to the side and as secluded a position as you can afford. Remember, the more optimal the setup, the more likely you are to be able to look after a hedgehog.
Sadly, one of my friends had a hedgehog house and it was overturned. At the time we thought it was the wind. However, later on with much further research we realised it was very likely a badger or fox turned over her crate and got our poor little hedgehog. So to counteract that you need to make sure your hedgehog house really is well covered. After this attack, she resorted to putting a slab of concrete over the top of her hedgehog house. Since then there has been no more signs of predators and she has an inhabitant 🙂 Here’s a picture of that:
Notice the slab underneath too. This is an ideal little raised section as it’ll keep dry which hedgehogs love. Notice the entrance comes out into cover, the house itself is placed close to a fence. The direction for wind is good too. This hedgehog house stands a pretty good chance of finding an inhabitant.
How do you attract hedgehogs to hedgehog houses?
They’ll want an area rich in food. This generally leads itself to an unmanaged little area in your garden with long grass and plants covering the floor. They are more likely to be able to forage for food easily. This type of area tends to go hand in hand with the type of cover they want anyway when coming and going from their little home. The two absolute best methods for hedgehogs to forage are your compost pile and a pile of old rotting logs. Both offer cover whilst feeding and absolutely loads of food. This is also going to significantly increase the chances of a hedgehog mother nursing at your site if she feels there is enough food to stay put!
What should I put in a hedgehog house?
From experience I know that you don’t need to put anything. If you do put some decaying leaves and whatnot then I don’t think it would stop a hedgehog coming in. But at the same time knowing you don’t need to do anything is absolutely fine too.
Talking of which, generally you want to clear your hedgehog house out rather than fill it up. The right time of year to do that is May onward but more about that in the next segment.
When should I put out my hedgehog house?
Hedgehogs generally go dormant and into hibernation at the end of September onward. They are usually out and about by April, so putting out a hedgehog house should really occur before September. Toward May, which is pretty soon, you can consider cleaning out your hedgehog house ready for another visitor. You could technically do so now but there may still be inhabitants so better to wait.
Importantly, if you’re just getting going on the garden, hedgehogs may not have used your hedgehog house! They could have pitched up camp in your compost heap, in your greenhouse, or in a pile of well covered logs. So keep an eye out before and as you disturb your garden for the first time this year!
How to make a hedgehog house
Quite frankly I thinking making a hedgehog house is better than buying one anyway. You can get yourself a wooden vegetable crate, cut a door small enough for them to get in but not let any predators in. You then raise it off the ground slightly to keep it dry. This would probably be best done with a wooden base. Then, get yourself some bricks or concrete slabs on top to keep the predators out. With those all in place throw over a load of dirt and leaves making it look like a completely natural mound. This will be superbly insulated in terms of heat and almost certainly better for noise too. As long as it’s dry then you stand an excellent chance of attracting a hedgehog to your garden.