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posted 22 December 2018


With thanks to Adrian Doble




It is possible that you have hedgehogs visiting your garden regularly but you will not see them searching for food at night unless you inspect your garden with a torch in the late evening, or unless you put food out for them in a pet-proof cage.  Their tarry black faeces are a clue if you know what to look for and, in the Summer months you will probably hear them huffing and puffing to each other.

If you wish to help them to survive, and they are declining at an alarming rate, here are two ideas for the Winter days when it is not very pleasant pottering in the garden:  1. Make a hedgehog house.   2. Make your hedges more hedgehog-friendly.

Hedgehog houses

You can buy these from Wildlife organisations, some suppliers of bird food, garden centres and catalogues like Coopers of Stortford. 

The basic need is for a wooden box about 30 cm long, 20 cm wide and 20 cm high with an entrance tunnel 30 cm long, 13 cm high, and 13 cm wide. The box should have a ventilation hole at the top of the back wall.  It should be raised on a couple of batons.  The lid should be removable.  All wood (such as old pallets or gravel boards) should be untreated otherwise the hedgehog may be killed by any solvent fumes.  Once the box has been filled with straw (available at your local hardware store) the structure should be covered with a thick plastic sheet (such as an old rubble sack) and then put in a quiet sheltered corner.  A covering of dead leaves, twigs and tree-prunings will help the box to blend in.

Dimensions for the box can be seen at and here is an example of one in regular use locally.


Hedgehog hedges

Hedgehogs may cover a couple of kilometres each night unless it is very cold, as they look for food and for companionship.  This is essential if they are to survive as a breed but it will be impossible if they cannot move safely from one territory to another.  Thus they rely on connected wildlife corridors that may run through our gardens and neighbouring farmland.  If the borders of your territory are solid brick or close-boarded fencing then there can be no traffic but this can be corrected by the formation of a hole about 13 x 13 cm wherever there is a barrier.    This will keep out cats, dogs, rabbits and badgers.

The electric strimmer is one of the worst tools to use in the garden because it can inadvertently slice a hedgehog to a painful death while it is sleeping.  A hedge that has no plant life below it provides no cover for travelling hedgehogs, and furthermore, it will contain none of the creatures that the hedgehogs feed on. 

Hedges can be made more suitable for wildlife by allowing grass and other plants that grow at the base, to grow to their full height.  The base can also be thickened by planting low-growing shrubs like Rosemary and Lavender.  Cuttings of Hawthorn will be even more effective but will need to be pruned to keep them short and bushy.  A scattering of Foxglove seeds and those of other wildflowers will add the icing to the cake and provide the thicker base more quickly.

Dr Bumbledore  (December 2018)



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