What To Put In A Hedgehog House

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. 

You can choose wet or dry hedgehog food or pet food. Check out our full guide on what hedgehogs eat here.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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11 Responses

  1. The hog home I bought last year and filled with straw was occupied very quickly. When and how can it be cleaned? Or do I leave the hedgehog to manage its own affairs?

  2. I’m super pleased and excited. Placed my new hog house in my garden and by the second night it’s being used regularly 😃.

  3. This information is very useful,hedgehogs have been coming into my garden for ages.
    I have now purchased my second hedgehog house.
    I used to put the food in the outside toilet and will continue too.
    So both houses can be used for them to hibernate..

  4. Thank you for this information as I had been wondering how to use my hedgehog box as I had realised that they are messy eaters!

    1. Hi Linda,
      It’s not so much that the house needs to be disguised, it’s more that hogs prefer a tucked away spot. So you could put it in a border, under a hedge or under some shrubs. If you have a patio garden you could lay some old branches or even turf, artificial or real, over the top of it.
      Good Luck!
      Clare

  5. I have a hedgehog house at my back door and she’s in it in the day and it took no length for her to settle in she goes out for a while at night but I have the food right in front of it and I have to constantly watch as a fox den nearby and they are always trying to steal it I have a job to keep them away how can I protect the food .

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Great that you have a hedgie in residence!
      To protect the food you need a feeding station, you can easily make one, or buy one. Have a look at this article:
      https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/hedgehog-feeding-station/
      On the other hand, the hedgehog will only be having a nightly feed for a few more weeks before hibernation, and as the weather gets colder the fox is hungry too.
      You could maybe put out enough food for the two of them for the next few weeks and sort out your feeding station for the spring?
      Best
      Clare

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