So you have your lovely new hedgehog house. What should you put in it? How can you make it more welcoming for prickly visitors? This is a question we get asked all the time here at Home and Roost. The answer is: it depends on what you are planning to use the house for.
What to Put in a Hedgehog House?
Hedgehogs will use a hedgehog house to feed in or to nest in. They will not use the same place for both activities. Hedgehogs don’t like to eat where they sleep. Considering they are such messy eaters; this is probably a good thing!
So when you are thinking about what to put into a hedgehog house, the first thing you need to consider is how you want your local hogs to use it.
What to Put In a Hedgehog Feeding Station
Using your hedgehog house as a feeding station can be very helpful.
Lots of us put food out on our lawns or patios for hedgehogs. It’s a great way to feed them. You can enjoy the entertainment of watching them eat.
But feeding hedgehogs out in the open can leave them exposed to predators as they eat. You also run the risk of feeding local cats and foxes rather than the prickly diners you had planned for.
Using your hedgehog house as a feeding station gives your hogs some protection as they eat, and can help to keep other animals away from the food as well.
If using your hedgehog box as a feeding station, we would suggest that you first line the bottom with newspaper. This will help with cleaning out, which you will need to do each day.
Place hedgehog food in a heavy, shallow dish in the far back corner of the box. Placing the food in the furthest corner from the entrance offers the hedgehog most protection from predators whilst eating.
Always use a heavy, shallow dish. Hogs are messy eaters and will do their best to tip over anything more elegant!
How Much Food?
This depends on how many are coming for dinner.
We suggest you start small and work up. If you’re like me, you will quickly get frustrated if you find there is lots left every morning.
But it will take time for hogs to find the food and get comfortable eating it. So be patient and be prepared for some waste in the early days.
Eventually, you want to get to the point where there is just a little food left in the mornings. This will mean everyone will have had all they need.
Hedgehog rescuers, who have a hog in captivity, will feed around 4oz or 100gms of food each day. But when you offer food at a feeding station, remember that this is a supplement to their natural diet, and will not be the only thing they eat each night.
So you probably aren’t going to need as much as 4oz per hog per night.
When To Feed?
You should put out food each evening as it starts to get dark.
Some people only leave the food out for a couple of hours and take it in before they go to bed.
This can work as a system. If hedgehogs know food is available in the early evening hogs may get into the habit of coming to your garden at that time. It can also help to minimise the risks of rats taking the food.
Most people, however, leave food out all night. Any leftover should be taken away the next morning. The dish should be cleaned, and the house cleaned out if need be. There will often be poop.
You should probably feed from March to November.
How about Drinks?
Yes, please! Always have a heavy, shallow dish of freshwater available.
Though we would suggest that you leave this outside of the feeding station. As we’ve mentioned, hogs are messy eaters, and even with the best-designed water dish, they are likely to paddle through it, tip it over and even poop in it. Leaving the water dish outside of the hedgehog house just helps keep the mess down.
The only time we would suggest you place the water inside the feeding station is wen nights are very cold, and it is likely to freeze if left out in the open.
Please make sure you only offer water, not milk. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, and milk will make them ill.
What to Put in A Hedgehog Nesting Box?
Hedgehogs use nesting boxes in 3 ways:
- For daytime naps
- For having and bringing up babies.
- For winter hibernation
Daytime napping nests are scrappy affairs thrown together with very little care or attention to detail.
Breeding nests and hibernacula are much more carefully constructed.
But whatever the type of nest it is built from the same materials. These are leaves, grass, straw and twigs.
So, if you are hoping that your hedgehog box will be used for nesting, it will be useful to place a little of these materials in the box.
Hedgehog boxes are most often used by younger and less experienced hogs. So adding a little nesting material will encourage them and give them a helping hand.
Go carefully, though. Gathering nesting materials, bringing them to the nesting site and building the nest is a key part of hedgehog behaviour during preparation for hibernation and breeding. So don’t over-fill the nest box.
It will be better to make sure that there are plenty of nesting materials close by. Natural is best. But if you do have a very tidy garden, you could buy a little straw or hay bedding and leave this close by.
Be sure not to block up the entrance to the nest box.
Food and Water?
As we know, hedgehogs don’t like to eat where they sleep. So don’t put food or water into a hog box that you intend to be used for nesting.
You could, however, place saucers of food and water close to a new nesting box to temp the hogs over and get them familiar with it.
Once you have a breeding or hibernating hog in residence, the food should be removed so as not to attract predators or other hogs.
It can be helpful to leave some water near to a nesting box though. Even in the winter, during hibernation, hogs will rouse several times for a drink.
How About a Camera?
As the price of good wildlife cameras comes down, more and more people are placing these in or near their nesting boxes and feeding stations.
You need to be out in your garden at night to see hogs feeding, And nesting and hibernating hogs should not be disturbed. So having a well-placed camera can be a great way of seeing a bit more of your visitors. Here’s our guide to some of the best ones on the market.
So as you can see, when it comes to putting things into your hedgehog house, less is more. Marie Kondo would be proud of just how uncluttered hogs like to be.
For a feeding station, you need just food and newspaper.
For a nesting box, just a few leaves or some straw will be fine, the hog will do the rest.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have more questions or suggestions, we would love to hear them. Leave us a comment below.
And for more hoggy reading check out our hedgehog blog here.