It’s cold here in Gloucestershire this morning! Autumn is here, and winter is most definitely on the way. Soon it will be time for our hedgehogs to hibernate. Do you have suitable homes for them in your garden? Hibernation is one of the most challenging times of the year for hedgehogs. With their natural habitat disappearing fast, they can often struggle to find suitable homes for the winter.
You can help by providing hibernation homes in your garden. There are options to buy hedgehog homes, make one yourself, or provide natural nesting sites and materials in your garden. Once you understand hedgehog home essentials, you can think about providing different options for hedgehogs in your garden.
Hedgehog Home Essentials
Hedgehogs are adaptable animals, they have survived for 15 million years in all sorts of different environments. They don’t need much from a home, but there are a few essential things.
Hedgehogs don’t need a 20 room mansion to spend the winter in, but they do need 2 rooms: a bedroom and a hallway.
The hallway or entrance tunnel is very important. It serves to keep out predators and ensure that the hog has an undisturbed hibernation.
When making your hedgehog home, the size of the rooms and doorways is also important.
Hibernaculaor hedgehog hibernation nests are large. The hedgehog will create thick walls of leaves and grasses, which provide excellent insulation. You hedgehog home needs to allow room for this. So the bedroom, or hibernation chamber should be at least 30cm, 12 inches square, and a similar depth.
The hallway or entrance tunnel should be at least six inches long, to prevent long-pawed predators from reaching in.
And doorways or openings should be no more than 5 inches or 13 cm across. Again, this will allow the hedgehog in but keep predators out.
Warm and Dry
No one likes a damp bedroom, and that includes hedgehogs. Be sure the entrance to your hedgehog home is not facing the North East, this is the direction our coldest, wettest weather blows in from.
A solid base or floor to your hedgehog house will help to keep the damp out. You could even add small feet, or place a couple of small stones under your home to help keep the damp at bay.
Last but not least, if you ensure that your house is tilted very slightly forwards, towards the entrance, this will allow any rain that does get in to run right out again.
Location, Location, Location
Where you place your hedgehog home will have a significant impact on whether it is used or not. Choose a quiet location, maybe up against a fence or wall. A site out of direct sunlight, with plenty of cover in the form of shrubs, undergrowth or of course a hedge, will be appealing to your local hogs.
Choose a spot where you don’t plan to be doing any work in the garden over winter to ensure that your hogs can have an uninterrupted hibernation.
How To Make A Hedgehog Home
Now we understand the essentials for a comfortable and useful hedgehog home, let’s look at making one.
Making a Natural Home for Your Hedgehogs
If you have a large and reasonably wild garden, you could provide hibernation homes for your local hedgehogs with minimal effort.
You can do this simply by leaving natural nesting sites undisturbed and leaving nesting materials lying around.
Natural nesting sites include between the roots of large trees, in the base of this hedges or under this brambles or bushes. In your garden, the hedgehog might also choose to nest in the space under a shed, under piles of garden rubbish, building materials, log plies or the compost heap.
Nesting materials are leaves, grasses and other plant materials. Though one of our readers has reported a hog making an impressive nest mainly from old carrier bags!
If your garden has plenty of natural nesting sites and nesting materials then you don’t need to do much to make a home for your hedgehogs, Just let nature take its course and if you suspect that hogs have nested be sure not to disturb them.
DIY Hedgehog Home Projects
If your garden doesn’t offer many natural nesting options, you could make your own hedgehog home. There are several options, from the very simple, to the full-on building project.
Simple Box Options
The simplest option for a DIY hedgehog home is to use a box and adapt it by cutting a hole in it and adding an entrance.
You could use a plastic or wooden box. Just be sure to follow the basic principles. Take a look at this video for step by step instructions.
Build your Own Wooden Hedgehog Home
If you are a dab hand with a saw and drill, you can very cheaply build a wooden hedgehog home yourself. Check out this video from the RSPB for instructions :
A Home Made of Bricks
My favourite option in the DIY category. This house will last a lifetime, and there is no drilling, hammering or sawing involved. And it will probably cost you nothing at all to build. We showed you how to make a brick built hedgehog home in our feeding station article. Or take a look at these instructions from the Natural History Museum:
Remember to add nesting materials. If you don’t have loads of leaves lying around your garden, you can always buy a bag of bedding. Leave a little in the house and some close by. Gathering nesting materials and building the nest part of the build-up to hibernation.
Buy A Hedgehog Home.
If like me, you are short on time and DIY skills you can always buy a hedgehog home. You will find no shortage of ready-made hedgehog houses to choose from with prices starting at less than £30.
When you are selecting a ready-made hedgehog house, try not to be tempted by cutesy designs. It makes no difference at all to the hog if the home looks like an igloo or a thatched cottage. And you won’t see it either if you have placed it correctly as it will be covered by undergrowth.
Instead, choose your house by checking against our list of essential basic features above. Look for:
- A sleeping chamber and an entrance hallway/tunnel.
- A solid base.
- Enough room to nest.
- Sturdy construction.
Make a Hedgehog Home and Make A Difference
Whichever option you choose for making your hedgehog home you will be making a real difference to our prickly friends. Hedgehogs need all the help they can get at the moment. Hibernation is a dangerous time for them. So providing a safe and secure hibernation home is a great way to help.
And why stop at one home? When hedgehog homes are so cheap to buy and easy to build, you could have a little hoggy village if your garden is big enough!
We hope you have found this article useful and interesting.
Do you have a suggestion or questions? Then leave us a comment below.
And if you would like some more hedgehog reading check out our hedgehog library here.