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. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred

    How lovely to heart hat Pinnacles is holidaying at the Manufactory health farm!

    Great to hear that you have a full house on the hedgehog villa front!

  2. We have a new lodger! ‘Pinnacles’ has come to stay for a hoilday. She is a small hedgehog and needs some tlc and a warm bed, with breakfast and supper expected! When her weight increases she can go into an outdoor living area and join Prickles and Prongs (who are doing very well, and are now in their outdoor quarters) for release in Spring.

    We also checked 2 of the outdoor hibernation boxes (the 2 we made with lids) and both had a big hedghog in – fast asleep! It was amazing to see how much hay and leaves they had managed to pack in, it all looked very cosy!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred

    This is good news Mildred. It looks as if they will easily survive the winter now. You must feel so proud.

  4. Stop Press: Hedgehogs Ignore New Year Diet Advice!

    Prickles is now 500g and Prongs a whopping 565g, they have more than doubled in weight. We will have to ensure they don’t get too fat by carefully monitoring their diet. We can swap to a low fat version of the cat kibble if necessary.

    We are very pleased with their progress!

  5. Hedgehogs love cooked chicken! Prickles and Prongs are putting weight on and are in good health!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred

    This is fascinating information.

    So pleased that you have found a local vet with good hog knowledge and experience. She must be quite rare I imagine.

    I wish we could provide a hedgehog hotel and restaurant for the adults like you. But hedgehogs and Min Pins just don’t mix.

    Thank you for sharing. Please keep us updated.

  7. A quick, positive update . . . I have found a wonderful local vet nurse who really understands hedgehogs and their needs. Prickles and Prongs have been treated today by the vet,according to the St Tiggywinkles ‘benchmark’. (

    According to Sandy roughly thirty percent of the juvenile hedgehogs won’t survive, however well we care for them, and added that it can be a rather demoralising undertaking. She added that we should still put food out at night as many hedghogs will still come for their supper, many won’t hibernate until January. And you are correct Fi, the warm autumn has upset the balance!

    If there is any change with our 2 little ones I will let you know.

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred

    Thanks for the update. How sad that Points is not going to make it. At least he is warm and dry rather than starving out in the cold.

    I admire what you are doing to help your local hedgehogs. I wonder if the milder weather is affecting their breeding patterns.

  9. This is getting complicated!

    Pins, the bit bigger hedgehog we found crossing the road yesterday decided he wasn’t staying with us after his feed and nice warm snooze. He hated it in his (big) box and made it clear he’d rather be outdoors. So I placed him back in the garden at 8pm with plenty of food nearby. He is a regular visitor so he knows there is always food available. We hope he continues to eat plenty and attains a good weight for the cold weather. If we found him out wandering in the daytime I wouldn’t hesitate to collect him up, warm him, feed and water him again, then take it from there.

    Right, Points, the one I found outdoors on Friday, a very small hog. Well, I thought he wasn’t ‘quite right’ from the start, but we de flea-d him, wormed him and removed a few ticks. He went with Prickles and Prongs from Saturday and they all got on ok. Very nice to see them in their bedroom with the heatpad, all snoozing quietly. But this morning it was obvious he wasn’t very well. He started wobbling, something that can happen to hogs for a number of reasons. I spoke to the helpful hedgehog expert and we decided that really there is little we can do. I really don’t think it is very fair to drag a baby wild animal to the vet (on a Sunday?!) when even they couldn’t be sure what treatment to apply. He is in his own box with a blanket and heat pad, food and water now. I don’t think he will make it.

    Thankfully Prickles and Prongs are doing well, eating a good supper every night, sleeping through the day. They look bright eyed and interested in life.

    From talking to other hedgehog rescue centres and carers it sounds like the percentage of happy endings is not high. We all came to the same conclusion – that it is better to feel safe and warm with food and water available, than many unimagable alternatives . . . . and at the end of the day (winter in this case) SOME do make it and go on to have a happy hedgehog life! Thanks for your interest and support Fi!

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    This is exciting news. Firstly that you have a five star hedgehog hotel and secondly that it appears to be well signposted in the hedgehog world.

    Are Points and Pins sharing a heatpad?

    Well done for rescuing them all. Best of luck with their care.

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