Did you know that there are less than a million hedgehogs left in the UK? This is compared to the 1950s when there were believed to be over 30 million.
Latest figures from The State of Britain's Hedgehogs report have found that numbers are down in rural areas by between 30 per cent and 75 per cent since 2000.
If you're concerned about these figures, building a hedgehog house is a great way of helping to provide shelter for them so they hibernate or even raise their young. The RSPB recommends putting it in place during spring or summer as this means it will be ready when they're house-hunting in autumn.
It's actually much easier than you think too - here's a fantastic tutorial from RSPB so you can give a hog a home.
You will need:
Two sheets of FSC timber (from a sustainable source) exterior plywood, at least 1.5cm thick, and 60cm wide by 2m long. Note, measurements are for 1.5cm thick wood. Adjust accordingly.
Nails or screws
Small hand saw
Short length of narrow drainpipe
1. Make your hedgehog home.
Cut out sections as shown on the diagram and nail all the pieces together except the roof.
Fill the chamber with a layer of dead, dry leaves. Hedgehogs prefer small leaves such as birch, oak, hawthorn or hazel. Then screw the roof to the box so that you can remove it in future to clean the box out. Place the narrow drainpipe in the hole at the back for ventilation.
You might want to get creative and design one from logs or old packing cases, as long as you follow the basic principles.
2. Now you’ve finished making your box, find somewhere suitable to put it.
Hedgehogs can be a little fussy about where they live. The box needs to be out of direct sunlight and the front entrance should be out of the wind.
A quiet part of the garden under thick vegetation or behind a shed is ideal.
3. Cover the outside in a pile of woody garden cuttings and leaves.
You can, if you like, even cover it with soil, leaving just the entrance hole and ventilation pipe free.
It's worth clearing out the hedgehog home every year or two. You can do this in April, after their hibernation but before hedgehogs start producing hoglets. However, the ideal time is in October before they go into hibernation, and after most of the litters have been weaned.
5. Monitoring your hedgehog home.
Remember that you won't see any activity between October and March/April when they’re hibernating.
If you'd like to find out if your box is being used, put something in front of the entrance that won't blow away but can be easily moved by a hedgehog, like a scrunched-up piece of newspaper. If a hedgehog is at home, you’ll find it will have been moved by the next morning.
Buy a hedgehog house
If you don't have the time to build a hedgehog house, what about buying one instead? Here are some great options...
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