You’ve probably heard that hedgehogs are having a tough time these days. Numbers in Britain have fallen by around a third in the last 10 years. So they need all the help they can get.
If you have a garden, there’s lots you can do to make it hedgehog friendly. Leaving gaps in your fence, having a variety of lengths of grass and good dense undergrowth, and avoiding slug pellets all help. They also need places to sleep in summer, and hibernate in winter.
Open compost heaps and piles of dead wood are good, easy ways to provide hedgehog hotels. When we had to get our fence repaired after the winter storms the fencers found a hedgehog hibernating in our compost heap.
When we found out that we had regular spikey visitors to our garden, we decided to offer them some luxury accommodation, in the form of a hedgehog box, to encourage them to spend even more time eating our garden bugs.
If you’ve spotted hedgehog boxes for sale, you’ll probably have noticed that they are very expensive. A good wooden one could cost you £50. We had some spare wood, so decided to save some cash and build one ourselves.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society have an excellent leaflet on how to build hedgehog boxes. It includes several designs, ranging from a quick and easy ‘council tax band A’ one made from a sturdy cardboard box, to a luxury ‘band H’ one suitable for the David Beckham of hedgehogs. Living in Surrey, home of most of the Chelsea squad, we had to go for that one.
Besides the wood and screws, it also required a small length of hose for ventilation, and some plastic sheeting to keep the water out (both of which were easily obtained from our local hardware shop – the type of place you could buy four candles from). We also bought some hay from the pet shop for the hogs to use as bedding.
Neither Dr C nor I are DIY experts, but the instructions were clear and it was straightforward to build. We made it in a (not too long) day.
We sited in the shade next to the fence and a small hedge. We then built a little entrance tunnel from leftover bricks, and covered the whole thing in some earth and greenery.
We’ve evidence that hedgehogs have used it, although I don’t know how regularly. I plan to install a camera in it to find out what goes on in there.