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Guest Spot: How to build a hedgehog villa and nurture hedgehogs in your garden by The Mildred Mittens Manufactory

Hedgehog sleep boxI like hedgehogs. Even though they are partial to eating frogs. The few that have visited our garden caused a first night opening uproar with the Min Pins and had to be escorted off the premises in a cardboard box. Clearly intelligent beasts, hedgehogs no longer visit our garden. Only an Einstein amongst hedgehogs could coexist safely beside a Min Pin.

This week I had an interesting exchange of emails with Mildred who happened to mention, in passing
“And last night we watched our 7 hedgehogs trooping round the garden looking for the tasty treats that we leave out for them. They have taken up residence in 3 ‘sleep’ boxes Ian made in the summer. We feel very lucky!”

My response was quick
“How wonderful having 7 hedgehogs in your garden. These sleep boxes sound interesting. What do they consist of? Are they easy to make?”

Mildred replied,
“The sleep boxes are made from thick plywood, about 18″ square, 12″ high. They have a tunnel for the hedgehog to enter, and a pipe at the rear to allow air circulation. The whole thing is covered with roofing felt, and stapled in position.

We didn’t make ours so we could open them as we thought it would just make places for water to seep in. I can reach in the tunnel to clean them out, and also to check if there’s an inhabitant!

We put a lot of hay inside and some nearby. It was obvious with 2 of the boxes that they had a resident, the hay was disturbed etc. But the 3rd box . . . . we just couldn’t be sure. Ian lifted the box and I carefully put my hand in – YES! There he was, fast asleep! We were so pleased!

The boxes had only been down for about 2 to 3 weeks so they must be ok for the hedgehogs to take to them so readily! It is so nice to think they can just get up at night, stretch and then find their breakfast!

We live on a quiet lane but there are still fast cars about. We like to think the hedgehogs have no need to go out the front gate now. If you are keen to have the exact measurements for the hedgehog boxes I could ask Ian to draw a plan. He checked a few websites with their idea of a suitable arrangement and took it from there!”

Yes please, I’d love to put a plans on The Cottage Smallholder site.

Mildred replied within hours.
“I have attached a drawing! Click here to download the Ian’s free hedgehog villa construction plans.

Ian used 15mm ply throughout (he rescued it from some kind of palettes at work!). The box in the photo I sent earlier, in situ, was slightly adapted with the tunnel off centre so it fitted around the side of the pig sty wall. It is covered all over in roofing felt – Ian used one big bit so it would be really waterproof! Then I put some hay inside and left some near the door. To encourage them to look at it we left a few peanuts near the door.

We are very cautious about disturbing them during the day, one box is near where I walk through to the car area, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

The boxes are slightly raised up on bits of brick so when it rains heavily they won’t be sitting in a puddle, and as the tunnel slopes down slightly (so the water won’t run inwards!) it allows it to sit properly. As you can see we used a short piece of hose for the air duct – any bit of pipe could be adapted I am sure! I am also sure the exact size could be varied a bit.

As all 3 sleep boxes have a resident hedgehog we have talked about making a few more as most evenings we see 7 hedgehogs.

Any other tips?

hedgehog feed stationMy advice on feeding is that it’s important for them to have somewhere undercover as they don’t like wet nuts etc. A paving slab on top of 4 bricks would be as good as anything. The box Ian made is good because I can lift it up and wash the path under it (hedgehogs are messy little creatures).

We have 2 more feed stations, one near the back door and one along the path, both of these we can see from the window and one evening I actually fed a hedgehog on the door step – that was wonderful. We mostly leave them to it though. I noticed tonight it was 20 past 6 when we set their supper out, too late for the birds to eat it and soon enough to be sure we are out of their way – the baby hedgehog seems to come just as it turns dark.

We feed them peanuts, cat food (which we place under another box so the cats don’t get it), homemade left over cake . . . . . they had some apple crumble last night! They also like walnuts/hazelnuts/brazils . . . . they share those with the squirrels

Thank you so much, Mildred, for sharing your hedgehog sleep box plans and feeding advice.

If you are keen on attracting hedgehogs to your garden this is a must. If you have children, building the feeding station and sleep villas would be a fabulous project to do with them.

If you like guinea pigs, birthdays and cakes why not visit Mildred’s site where amongst many things she has plans for the ultimate guinea pig birthday cake.


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41 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sheena,

    That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that badgers eat hedgehogs.

  2. We are so sad. (:p) We do not get hedgehogs and never have for the 29 years we have lived here. We do have lots of badgers and they are the king of the ring ! One does not get hedgehogs where there are badgers unfortunately.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Richard,

    Your comment made me laugh out loud.

    I am impressed that you tackled this job and freed the beast. The poor thing must have been terrified.

  4. Richard

    I spent most of Saturday morning disentangling (is that a word?) a young hedgehog from our kids garden tennis net. It was bearly twitching, hardly breathing – I thought we had lost it with the twine tightly constricting its throat. It was no mean feat – since the ‘hog had rolled itself into a ball. I final cut it free – and put it down on the grass -….it promptly unfurled, raised itself onto it surprisingly long legs and away it tottered of into the hedgerow without even a thank you. That’s wild animals for you….never grateful.

  5. Lovely post Fiona, I’d love to attract hedgehogs to the garden, the boys would absolutely love it!

    Thank you too to Mildred and Ian!

  6. Thanks Fiona for the hedge-blog!
    We use the chicken/rabbit type of cat food, in those easy squeeze pouches.
    NO milk, or bread.
    We haven’t ever seen a rat in the garden or the sheds; but, living quite close to farmland, we DO have an occasional mouse in the garden. As long as they don’t come indoors we are not too bothered!
    Thanks for all the interest!!

  7. PS. Canned dog food is best for them.

  8. Fantastic! We have the occasional hedgepig wandering through the garden and the dals go ballistic. A safe haven for them (the tiggies, not the dals!) would be brilliant.

  9. Ohhhh We have a hedgehog house!!! We bought ours though from the RSPB. We occassionally get hedgehogs in our garden and they are soooo lovely. The cats find them a bit curious and love watching them. We put food down for them too…Don’t give them milk or cat food with fish in it as these are bad for them. I just love hedgepiggles as hubby calls them.

  10. I am totally jealous if Mildred. It would be so much fun to have a little colony of hedgehogs in your backyard. Does she have problems with rats and mice, what with leaving out food and everything?

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