Sadly hedgehogs have declined dramatically and need all the help from us they can get.
Why are hedgehogs threatened?
As with much of our other wildlife, hedgehogs have suffered from having their habitat destroyed and fragmented. Read all about it on the Hedgehog Preservation Society’s website.
What can we do to help hedgehogs?
Something as simple as putting a hedge-hog sized hole in the bottom of your garden fence means hedgehogs’ territory can be extended into the wider neighbourhood to suit their requirements. Also please please don’t use poisonous slug pellets. The hedghogs eat the poisoned slugs and die a painful death. It’s distressing to watch. Use wool pellet slug pellets or use other means of keeping them down. And encourage hedgehogs, the best slug killers of all!
Also leave untidy parts of your garden for hedgehogs to hide in, and check before setting light to a bonfire in case a hedgehog has made it into a home.
How to use the hedgehog house
Just put the hedgehog house in a quiet part of the garden where it’s not going to be disturbed all winter. Think about how bare everything’s going to look when everything’s died back, and make sure the hedgehog box is somewhere that will still be sheltered. I had one tucked between a shed and a wall that was used by a rescued hedgehog for years. Leave dead leaves and sticks and stuff around for a hedgehog to pull into the box. We used to put straw out for “Mrs Hog” which she made a right mess of but dragged a lot into the box. Don’t try to put it in the box for him or her – they’ll want to arrange it just right so they can tuck in and sleep the winter away.
How do you know if the hedgehog house has been used?
It’s tempting to lift up the box and see if it has any occupants but this is the worst thing you can do. You can usually tell by bits of nesting material that the box has been used. Leave it until well into the spring before opening it up to clean it out. In fact, if you can just find a good spot and leave it alone, that’s the best thing. Your hedgehog will clean it out the following autumn before hibernating in it again.
Will the hedgehog use it at other times of the year?
What we found with ours was that Mrs. Hog liked to hide in other parts of the garden while she was active. She preferred to use the box in the winter when she needed somewhere safe and weather-proofed, and there wasn’t much other cover. But if you leave it in a good place it might be used at other times of the year.