Saturday, 18 November 2017

Attract hedgehogs to your garden: Make a hedgehog house from recycled garden waste

Make a hedgehog house Recycled Green Fingered Blog
Attract hedgehogs to your garden or allotment and they'll help you control slugs and other pests. Build them a cosy home and they're more likely to hang around your plot. Here's how to make a low-cost home for hedgehogs from an old water butt and a planter...


Of all the potential visitors to your garden or allotment, the hedgehog is one of the most welcome.

Perhaps it's because being nocturnal makes seeing them a novelty. Certainly, their appetite for slugs and other pests make them desirable to have around for any gardener, particularly those trying to avoid using chemicals to protect their plants from molluscs and caterpillars.

It could be that despite their spiny exterior they are undeniably cute to watch, snuffling around on the ground with their twitching nose and a slightly stumbling manner, as if they don't quite know where they're going.

Why hedgehogs are good for your garden

Hedgehogs are very helpful to gardeners because of what they eat. They'll eat worms, beetles and slugs. Worms of course have a very beneficial effect on the soil, but there are so many of them you don't need to worry about hedgehogs eating too many. However, some beetles will do damage to plants and of course slugs are probably a gardener's number one worst enemy. 
Slug Green Fingered Blog
Slugs - Public Enemy Number One
Like frogs and toads, hedgehogs are a valuable natural predator in the battle to save your flowers and vegetables from being munched. If you can encourage them in your garden you could significantly reduce the damage slugs do. 








Why hedgehogs need our help 

Hedgehogs are one of the few creatures in the UK that fully hibernate during the winter. 

They need a warm, dry, secure place to stay. 

Although their spines offer them protection, predators like foxes, badgers and birds of prey may do damage to hedgehog nests in an attempt to catch other mammals. They are also sadly often killed unwittingly by humans using strimmers, hedgecutters or forks, having hidden themselves away in log piles, bonfires or hedges.

The number of safe and suitable habitats for hedgehogs to hibernate has reduced drastically over the years due to changes in agricultural practices and gardening methods. 

Wild hedgerows have been removed, many gardens have been hard landscaped or more carefully cultivated, lacking the wilder, unkept corners. And increased use of chemicals has had the unfortunate knock on effect of killing hedgehogs that have fed on poisoned pests. 

Hedgehogs are also vulnerable to a lack of food. If they don't gain enough weight before hibernating they may not make it through the winter. The changes to gardens have made it more difficult for hedgehogs to find adequate food sources. You can help them by putting out the right kind of food and making sure they can get in and out of your garden easily. There are some great ideas for how to do this at Little Green Space, including an excellent checklist.

Hedgehogs can cover a large area every night as they roam around looking for food or shelter, so if you build them a decent home they are likely to find it. And if they like it they might stay. They might even start a family! With more hedgehogs resident in your garden you'll have expert live-in slug control, and won't need to use chemicals.

How do you make a home for a hedgehog?

I built this hedgehog house on my allotment. I'm hoping they'll take up residence next to my plot and eat loads of slugs and caterpillars so that I won't need to use chemical controls on vegetables that we're going to eat. 

It's sited on a fairly flat spot behind the compost bins at the base of a steep slope that has trees, a hedge and brambles growing on it. There are plenty of access points to the allotment site for hogs, between railings and under fences etc, so I expect them to find it sooner or later.

The hedgehog house is made from a broken water butt and an old trough planter. I rinsed out the water butt and let it dry off so it would be clean and dry for the hogs to use.
Old water butt recycled to make Hedgehog House Green Fingered Blog

Old trough planter recycled to make Hedgehog House Green Fingered Blog
The water butt developed a crack and would no longer hold water, but is otherwise in tact. It has a hole for a tap on one side. I made this the bottom of the hedgehog house so any water could drain out of it, though I cut another couple of small holes just to make sure. It has a hole in the other end for the water intake and a hole in the end. 

I've used these to give ventilation for the hogs, positioning the water butt so that these are on the sides, to avoid rain falling through them to the inside.

I used the trough planter as the tunnel entrance, cutting out part of each end for the hogs to fit through. I softened the cut edges by covering them in tape. I cut out part of the end of the water butt in the rough shape of the trough and inserted the end of the trough in the hole. The tunnel means hedgehogs can get in but larger animals can't.
Hedgehog House Recycled Green Fingered Blog
The finished hedgehog house
I use an old length of wood as the floor of the tunnel. Inside I put some hay and straw they can use as bedding. 

Finally, I covered the hedgehog house in loads of sticks and logs. This is to make it look more natural and blend in to it's surroundings, but it will also hopefully make the whole set up more appealing to the hogs themselves. Time will tell. I'll post any signs of it being used on twitter and my facebook page.
Hedgehog House Recycled Green Fingered Blog
Logs and sticks help it blend in
You can find information on the best place to put your hedgehog house and how to look after it when you've built it in this article from Ark Wildlife.

If you'd like to know more about hedgehogs and how to help them, check out the British Hedgehog Preservation Society site.


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2 comments:

  1. Interesting article. Hope you get a resident hog soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As the weather gets colder they'll be looking for a home so fingers crossed :)

    ReplyDelete