Before you do this activity, it is worth seeing if you have any hedgehogs around. Look out for them at dusk. During the day you can see if there is evidence of hedgehogs having visited by looking for their poo, which is usually black and full of shiny beetle wing cases. Just look though – don’t touch!
- Help a hedgehog survive the winter months by providing a hibernation box. Hedgehogs survive winter, when it is cold and there is little food around, by hibernating. To do this successfully, they need warm, dry nests. Outside, hedgehogs make these out of leaves, dead grass, straw and bracken, under shrubs, hedgerows and fallen logs. There may be a shortage of these and a ready-made nestbox solves the problem.
- You can build a hedgehog house with a cardboard box (cut slits about 15 cm by 5 cm, in each side to allow the air to circulate, and a square about 15 cm x 15 cm on the front side for an entrance.
- Put some shredded newspaper inside with clean, dry grass on top.
- Place the box in a quiet, sheltered part of the garden, preferably under a hedge, if possible with the entrance facing south.
- Cover the box with a plastic sheet to stop the box getting wet.
- Put twigs all around it and then cover it with dry grass and leaves.
- Don’t disturb your hedgehog house in winter.
- A cardboard house won’t last more than one winter. Clear it away in late April, after first making sure there is no hedgehog still in it. (To do this, put a small amount of food – as described below – near the entrance and watch whether it disappears overnight. If it doesn’t then this shows the hedgehog is no longer there.) If you’d like to make a longer-lasting home, you can find instructions for a wooden hedgehog box from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
- You can feed your hedgehog by putting out a dish of dog or cat food. It is a good idea to put a shallow dish of fresh water out, especially in the summer.