The Cottage Smallholder

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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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  1. … and then there was four!!!
    There may well be no room at the Inn, but nobody informed “Pins”. He was spotted wobbling across the lane towards our cottage looking cold, hungry and very sorry for himself. Clearly, word amongst the community of late born hogs has got around!

  2. Oh dear . . . can you guess what is coming next? Yes, we have another lodger – ‘Points’.

    I came across him coming up the garden path at lunchtime today, thirsty, hungry and totally fed up with life. He is in the ‘isolation ward’ at present – we had to remove several ticks, then treat him for fleas and we need to check he doesn’t have any sign of worms.

    He is a grumpy little chap, and no wonder really. I hope a little tlc and a decent supper will brighten his life. I am not sure if Prickles and Prongs will be too happy with a new flatmate. We will introduce them on Sunday and watch carefully, if they don’t get along Points will have his own cosy one bedroom flat!

    And now there really is ‘NO more room at the inn’!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    Great that Prickles has been reunited with Prongs. I bet that they are loving the deluxe accommodation at the manufactory hotel.

  4. . . . . and then there were 2 . . . . Prickles has been reunited with (we suspect) his brother (or sister). Prongs (as we have named him) was wandering around last night, cold and wet and very thin, at 250g he wouldn’t survive the winter without help.

    Prickles & Prongs are happily snuggled up together in their heated accomodation after clearing their supper and breakfast up earlier!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    Thank you so much for leaving such an inspirational comment.

    I do hope that Prickles will survive the winter. He couldn’t be in more caring hands. Do keep us updated, please.

  6. An update on our garden hedgehogs:

    We have had to bring a little hedgehog indoors recently. We noticed him feeding in the garden about a month ago, he was tiny and I carefully weighed him – 400g. At the weekend I thought he looked in a panic, I nipped out and weighed him again, just under 300g . . . quite a big weight loss for such a small creature.

    Following some lengthy phone calls to our local Hedgehog Lady (Elaine) it was decided he wouldn’t survive the winter as he hadn’t put on enough weight and it would be best to help him out if we could.

    Elaine was rather full with over 90 borders, and another ‘care lady’ was full too with 70 little hedgehogs. So with all their advice fixed firmly in my head we have a lodger!

    ‘Prickles’ is in a comfortable ‘crate’ complete with heat pad (when they are that small they can’t keep themselves warm), a cosy fleece bed, hay, water and a four course dinner every night.
    The weekend was a bit fraught but from Monday he has eaten everything in sight (cooked chicken being his favourite food), he seems contented and very relaxed too.

    I know things can change very quickly with small animals (having lost 6 guinea piggies over the years) but we feel Prickles is doing ok. The internet is a wonderful source of help and support too. Both the Hedgehog experts (located via the net) were wonderful, full of good advice and suggestions!

    I will let you know how things progress . . . I am praying for a happy outcome 🙂

  7. Fiona Nevile

    How lovely to have hedgehogs under your shed. I always thought of them as dainty creatures not tramplers of red hot pokers.

    I have heard them on warm summer nights, they make a real racket.

  8. Kate(uk)

    Our hedgehogs live under the shed in the back garden and do wonders for the slug problem, this year we have had some HUGE brown slugs which even the hedggies baulked at eating.There are quite a few of them and they have made paths through the flowerbeds, particularly in the front garden. Whatever I plant near their route gets trampled- I transplanted a large red hot poker and that was just brushed aside, now it is a leaning red hot poker. The noise they make on warm summer nights is hilarious and LOUD, no further evidence is needed for why they are hedge hogs.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    Thanks for pointing out that hedgehogs need/like drinking water. Useful stuff.

  10. Mildred

    We haven’t got any Badgers – I kept wishing we had, not so sure now after hearing they eat hedgehogs!
    We had to re home our 2 hens after we caught them eating a small toad – eeuch, it just put me right off!!!
    I just thought of something else, re attracting hedgehogs to your garden, they like a good drink of water! Ours often make straight for the water bowls and will spend a good 5 minutes guzzling it down.

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