When you first spot signs of hedgehogs in your garden, you will probably want to put out some food and water for them. But you may quickly start to wonder whether you are actually feeding the hedgehogs, or your local cats, foxes or even rats.
So its time to set up a hedgehog feeding station. A feeding station will let your hedgehogs feed in safety while keeping out other animals who may be looking for dinner in your garden.
In this article, we will show you how.
We’re going to look at:
- a step by step guide to building and quick and easy hedgehog feeding station.
- step-by-step instructions for building a forever feeding station.
- a guide to buying a hedgehog feeding station.
- keeping out cats and other animals.
- worries about rats.
- the correct size for a feeding station.
- where to site your hedgehog feeding station.
- food, water and cleaning.
- when to feed and when to stop.
If you’re worried about the decline of hedgehogs in the UK feeding hogs that visit your garden is one of the best things you can do to help.
So let’s get started on setting up that feeding station!
Building a DIY Hedgehog Feeding Station
In this section, we are going to look at two options for building your own hedgehog feeding station.
The first is quick and easy, with the second needing a bit more work but giving you a feeding station that will last for years.
Quick and Easy Hedgehog Feeding Station – Step-by-Step Instructions.
You can build a basic hedgehog feeding station from items you probably have around the house and garden quickly, easily and for free.
The station we are going to build now will do the job of giving your hogs a safe place to feed, protected from cats and foxes. It will last a few months at least and give you time to think about whether you would like to invest in a more permanent option.
- 1 x plastic box
- 3 x bricks
- Sharp knife or Stanley knife.
- Strong tape.
- Tape Measure.
- Marker Pen.
- Select your box. An old plastic storage box, recycling box or even a plastic laundry basket will do. I’m going to use a laundry basket for this demo. It’s the easiest to cut, and because it’s made of more flexible plastic, I’m hoping it might last a bit longer.
- Measure and mark out a hole roughly 13cm x 13cm (5 inches square) in the top of one of the short sides. If your box has a rim or lip that looks like it will be difficult to cut through don’t worry. Just position your hole above this and leave the rim as a “doorstep”. This doorstep may help keep other, bigger mammals out, and the hedgehog will have no trouble getting over it. Make sure your hole is no more than 13cm high. A deeper opening will allow easy access for other mammals.
- Carefully cut out the marked hole using your knife.
- Cover the sides of the hole with tape, to cover any sharp edges. If you have used a plastic laundry basket like mine, check that the holes between the slats aren’t big enough for a cat to hook a paw through. If you think this might be a problem tape over the gaps as well. Most laundry baskets though will be fine without this step.
- Turn the box upside down and place it over your food dish. Place a brick on top to stop it blowing away or being moved by other animals.
- Place the remaining two bricks, on top of one another, about 5 inches in front of the entrance hole. This will allow the hedgehog to enter, but keep out most other animals.
Simples! There’s your basic feeding station done and ready to go.
It’s an excellent option for a quick fix. But after a few months in the open, the plastic will get brittle and start to crack. So you may want to look at a more hard-wearing, long term solution.
Brick Built Forever Feeding Station – Step By Step Instructions
This option requires no DIY skills whatsoever and will last you a lifetime.
Top Tip! Decide where you are going to place this feeding station before you start work. It is mighty heavy, and you won’t want to be moving it!
- 10 – 16 whole or part bricks
- 1 x paving slab
- Tape measure
- First, decide where you are going to place your feeding station (see below). Unlike most of our other stations, you can’t quickly move this one once it’s set up.
- You are aiming for a structure that is 5 to 6 inches high, 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide on the inside. Arrange your bricks in a rough, squared-off G shape. You will need either one or two courses of bricks depending on their height. But there is no need for cement. Just stack them.
- The entrance to the feeding station and the entrance to the inner chamber should both be no more than 5 inches wide. This is to keep out other predators. c
- It will be helpful if the outside of your feeding station is slightly smaller than your paving slab on at least two sides. Leaving an overhanging roof will make it easier to lift the slab off when you need to replenish food and clean the house.
- Place a dish of food in the far corner of the inner chamber.
- Place the slab on top, and you’re done.
- The G shape you have created with the walls makes a little tunnel to keep out cats and foxes and let the hedgehog feed safely inside.
The brick-built method is a great option and makes a really sturdy, eco-friendly feeding station, out of stuff you probably have lying around.
The only downside is that the paving stone is really heavy – great for keeping foxes out, but if you’re a bit of wimp like me it can be a real strain to move it each day for cleaning and feeding.
If you have more DIY skills than I do, you could make yourself a wooded feeding station. Check out this video tutorial from BBC Gardeners World:
A Guide to Buying a Hedgehog Feeding Station.
If you’re not a DIY kind of person, you might just want to buy a hedgehog feeding station.
There are plenty on the market to choose from.
Here are our top tips for choosing the right feeding station for your hedgehogs.
- The feeding station should be big enough for the hog to turn around without knocking over the bowl of food. 12 x 18 inches, or 15 inches square is a good size.
- The feeding station MUST be predator-proof. So it must have either a tunnel or an internal partition that will deter cats or a fox reaching in and hooking out the food or even the hog.
- Wood is best. Solid wood will last longer than ply. And of course, FS certified wood is good for our planet as well.
- Check that your wooden feeding station has been treated with non-toxic wood preservative. This will help it to last longer, without posing any risk to the hog.
- Metal framed feeding stations are not recommended. Firstly metal can cause condensation. Secondly and maybe more important, metal-framed houses may have sharp edges, which could cut and injure your hog.
- There are quite a few “thatched” designs on the market that look cute. They do tend to be metal framed though. Also, they tend to be bottomless and quite light. So you will probably need to peg them down to stop them blowing away, or being overturned by other animals.
- If you’re buying a feeding station because you’re not keen on DIY, then it’s worth checking that the one you choose comes pre-assembled and not flat pack!
You can check out some of our wooden, ready-assembled feeding stations here.
Hedgehog Feeding Station Questions Answered
What Size Should My Hedgehog Feeding Station Be?
Your feeding station needs to be big enough to let the hedgehog get in, feed and get out without knocking over the food dish. We know how clumsy hedgehogs can be.
You don’t need to worry about leaving room for a group of hogs. Hedgehogs are generally solitary creatures and prefer to dine alone.
So as a rule of thumb the feeding station should be 12 x 18 inches on the inside, or 15 x 15 inches if square or circular, as a minimum.
Internally, it should be at least 5 inches high.
If it’s bigger than this, as most plastic box solutions will be, that doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the size of the entrance and the size of the predator-proofing gaps. These must be no more than 5 inches or 13cm square.
How do I Keep out Cats and Foxes?
You probably made or bought your hedgehog feeding station to stop cats and foxes eating your hedgehog food – great idea!
But if you don’t make your feeding station predator-proof, you run the risk of turning your feeding hog into someone else’s dinner.
Though cats and foxes won’t generally kill and eat a healthy adult hedgehog, they can attack and wound weak or young hogs. Which may be just the ones you want to help with extra food.
So make your feeding station safe by keeping them out.
There are three key points to remember to keep your feeding station safe.
- The entrance should be 5 inches or 13cm square at most. It could be less than that in height as hedgehogs are quite good at squashing themselves flat to get through low gaps.
- There should be a tunnel, baffle or internal partition at the entrance. The hog is bendy and will get around corners that a fox or even a cat can’t.
- If your feeding station is lightweight: a plastic box or a “thatched” construction, weigh it down with a brick or peg it down. This way, predators can’t move it or overturn it.
What About Rats?
“You’re never more than six feet away from a rat.” This old saying is probably an exaggeration. But rats do live near humans. They are all around us most of the time, whether we see them or not. Bird food, hedgehog food, chicken food and of course human rubbish all make a tasty meal for a rat. There isn’t really a way to feed birds or hedgehogs without allowing an interested rat access to the food.
Any rat-proof feeder will also be hedgehog proof, unfortunately. The good news is that rats are most prone to scavenging in gardens in the winter when there is less food to be found in safer places. In winter, of course, hedgehogs are hibernating, so you won’t be needing to feed them. If you do find you have a rat problem, we suggest you use suitable pest control measures to deal with it.
Where to Put Your Hedgehog Feeding Station?
This is a tricky one. The short answer is that it doesn’t much matter. While hedgehogs are quite fussy about where they nest, they will eat pretty much anywhere. Put it in a sheltered place, out of the way, and you stand more chance of keeping away cats and foxes.
Put it in an open situation on your patio or lawn, and you may avoid problems with rats. We like to have our feeding station on the lawn close to the house. This way we can watch the hogs come for food in the evenings.
If you go this route, Pat Morris advises that you are consistent about whether you have the station well lit or in the dark. Decide whether to leave curtains open or closed, outside lights on or off. Then stick to the same routine each night. The hogs won’t mind either way. But they may get a bit disconcerted if the feeding station is floodlit one night and in darkness the next.
It’s also worth keeping your feeding station away from your hedgehog house. Nesting hedgehogs like a bit of privacy and having other hogs enjoying a noisy dinner next door could disturb them.
Food, Water and Cleaning.
Food and water should be supplied each evening in heavy, shallow dishes.
Meaty or dry cat or dog food is okay. But a ready-made hedgehog food is designed to give your hogs precisely the nutrients they need heavy, shallow dishes are essential as hogs are clumsy and likely to knock things over.
If your house has a floor, you will probably want to line it with newspaper before putting down the food. Hogs are messy eaters and poop everywhere, so newspaper is going to make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to the clean-up. We would generally advise you to place the water dish outside the feeding station. Then if they knock it over at least, they’re not going to drown the food.
The only exception to this would be in freezing weather. If it’s icy putting the water dish inside the feeding station will help to stop the water freezing solid.
Each morning you should remove any leftover food, wash the dishes and either change your newspaper or wash down the floor of the feeding station. The clean-up is a messy job, but you have to do it. Keeping the feeding station clean is vital for limiting the spread of diseases.
When to feed and When to Stop?
The hedgehogs will pretty much tell you this themselves. Put out your first food in the spring, late March or April, and see if you get any takers. Give it a few nights to let the hogs get over any shyness. They will have just come out of hibernation at this time. So the food you provide will be valuable in helping hogs get back up to a good weight.
Carry on feeding through late spring, and you will help your hogs build up the energy they need for the mating season and for raising young. Keep up the good work into Autumn, and you’re doing the vital job of helping your hogs to fatten up for hibernation. This will save lives over winter.
As we move into November, you will notice less and less food being taken. No food is being taken because hedgehogs are heading into hibernation. Once the hogs stop feeding, you can stop putting food out.
Give your station a good clean and put it away for the winter, knowing you’ve done a great job of helping one of our most loved mammals.
Conclusion: Help a Hedgehog by Setting up a Feeding Station – it’s easy!
Hedgehog numbers in the UK are in drastic decline. One of the best things you can do to help is to feed them.
We hope we’ve shown you how easy it is to set up and maintain a hedgehog feeding station in your garden.
If you have any questions, please leave us a comment below.
Or upload a picture of your feeding station – we’d love to see them!
If you want to find out more about helping hedgehogs, please visit:
And if you spot a hedgehog in trouble, you can find your local hedgehog rescue project by clicking here.