As a keen wildlife enthusiast I watch all the TV documentaries, I read & learn, and I photograph animals too. But recently, when I thought about what I was actually doing to help wildlife, I realised that just hanging some bird feed in the garden was not really enough, and I started looking for something else I could do. I know that the UK hedgehog population is steadily decreasing, and I’ve seen hedgehog houses for sale in garden centres. But why buy some prefab dwelling, when I could supply my local hoggies with a bespoke abode? So here’s how I went about building an exclusive timber residence for my future garden lodger…
First of all, you have to get hold of some timber. Try to avoid buying planed joinery timber to stick outside like this though. I was fortunate enough to get what looked like an old shelf or bench, that someone else was taking to the tip. I’m sure if you ask around you can find some old timber to reuse, rather than buying new. The same goes for the (optional, but it’s fun) roofing felt. You can’t buy it in the small quantity required, so ask around for leftovers and off-cuts. Other than that, you just need a few screws, nails, and an afternoon.
Now you need to cut the wood into your component pieces. If you have an electric saw, this won’t take long, but if you’re going retro like me, it’s still only a few minutes work with a hand saw…
Once you’ve cut the wood and covered the roof, you should end up with something like this…
…Which you can then screw together to make this…
And before you know it, you end up with this…
I’ve also included here, my architect’s sketch plan, which might give a clearer idea of how it’s constructed…
Ultimately, the key things here are:
The house is around 50x50cm.
You need to provide a small entrance tunnel to keep predators out.
The entrance should be between 4-5 inches square.
Fill the house with straw, to create a warm, welcoming hogitat.
If your garden is fenced, excavate a little gap underneath the fence, so the hedgehogs are free to move around the territory.
Don’t fix the roof down permanently. You’ll want to be able to lift it up to check on your new lodger, and maybe clean it out once a year. My roof sits quite heavily on the house, but if you have a lighter roof material, you could always use a hinge or something to fasten one side down.
Some hedgehog houses have a wooden floor, and some just use the ground. I’ve chosen the latter, but I might add a floor in the future. I can see pros and cons for both.
You don’t have to go to the trouble of some of the details I have, like the pitched roof & roofing felt. You can more easily modify an old wooden box to provide a perfectly usable home. I just like the little touches, so I’ve embellished the project a little. Equally, you can go further and add your own personal touch to the house.
Have fun with it :-)
So there you go. It’s easy, fun, and you’re helping your local wildlife . If you have children, then get them involved. Kids need to be better connected to nature, and they love this sort of stuff.
And lastly, once you have made your own, get in touch and post your photo in the comments section here. We can get a virtual village going!