Hedgehog Hideaway

Hedgehogs spend the winter months hibernating, curled up asleep in an out-of-the-way corner. They do good work in the garden by eliminating slugs and snails – so repay the debt by providing them with a safe, purpose-built home.

Hedgehog HideawayThis can be made at any time of year, but needs to be ready in early autumn for the hedgehogs to find before they settle for their winter sleep.

Allow a couple of hours, depending on your woodworking skills.

Equipment required

  • For the box: Six pieces of 1cm (½in) thick untreated plywood – two 30cm x 31cm (12in x 12½in) side pieces; three 53cm x 30cm (21in x 12in) pieces for the bottom, back and front and one 56cm x 30cm (22in x 12in) piece for a fixed roof or one 58cm x 33cm (23in x 13in) for a hinged roof.
  • For the tunnel: two 15cm x 30cm (6in x 12in)pieces of untreated plywood for the sides; two 18cm x 30cm (7in x 12in) pieces for the top and bottom.
  • Panel pins, 20cm (8in) length of 2.5cm (1in) diameter right-angled (‘elbow’) plastic piping, wood glue (non-toxic), saw, hammer.
  • Two or three brass hinges and screws (if using).
  • Shredded paper and/or straw to line the box.

1 Make the box first. Cut six pieces of plywood to the dimensions given on page 144. In the back piece cut a central 2.5cm (1in) diameter ventilation hole about three-quarters of the way up from the bottom – this will eventually take the piece of plastic piping.

2 Cut a central hole measuring 18cm (7in)wide by 15cm (6in) high in the bottom of the front piece.

3 Attach the sides to the bottom piece of plywood using glue and panel pins. Next attach the back piece in the same way. Hammer in the panel pins as straight as you can for stability. Attach the front piece in the same way.

4 For the roof you have a choice. If you want to look inside the box from time to time, then attach it to the back piece using two or three brass hinges. If not, then glue and pin the roof to the box sides, back and front.

5 Now make the tunnel. Glue and pin the two sides (the pieces measuring 15cm x 30cm/6in x 12in) to the bottom piece. Then glue and pin the top on.

6 Insert the piece of piping in the ventilation hole, with the outside open end facing down so it doesn’t get filled with leaves and debris or let water in.

7 Put some shredded paper and/or straw into the box so it is warm and snug for the hedgehog, then position it in a sheltered, secluded part of the garden – but not facing north or north-east. If possible, set it against a fence or wall. Insert the tunnel into the entrance hole – and await the arrival of your winter lodger.

Cover the box with leaves, twigs and branches to give it a more natural look and to help it blend into its surroundings, but take care not to obstruct the entrance or the ventilation hole and pipe.

Don’t use treated plywood – the stain used may be toxic or harmful to the hedgehogs. Try not to look into the box frequently to see if there is someone inside – a hibernating hedgehog should not be disturbed once it is asleep. Also, the less time you spend near the box, the more likely it is that a hedgehog will feel confident enough to take up residence.

The ventilation hole and pipe enable the hedgehog to breathe while it is in the box, and also help to avoid condensation. If you have used hinges for the top of the box, then place a brick on top to keep it firmly closed. Clean out the box once a year in late summer – after the breeding season is over and before hibernation is due to begin. Put some more clean, fresh paper or straw inside.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas available now from the Dairy Diary online store.

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