Thursday, 1 November 2007

Hedgehog House for Rent

It has been a little while since I have mentioned hedgehog visits in my garden. I have continued to put food and water out but it hasn't always been taken. The nights are getting colder and I am very aware that our hedgehog may be preparing to hibernate for the winter. We had planned to make a hedgehog house but our time has been limited over the last couple of weekends.

Today I looked at a Hedgehog House in a pet shop but I couldn't bring myself to buy it - I still wanted to make our own. If we couldn't build one with wood I wanted to use materials already in my garden and had an idea how it could work. I am delighted to say that today I managed to do exactly that and I am absolutely thrilled with the finished result. Naturally, I hope any passing hedgehogs will be too!

Step 1 : The hedgehog would need to keep dry over the winter so why not use the plastic box I used as a feeding station. You can see in the photo above, taken on September 25th, that the hedgehog is happy to go in it. I am guessing there should be enough room for it to make a warm space to hibernate.

Step 2 : The Hedgehog needs to keep warm so I swept up dried leaves and tucked them around the sides of the box as a layer to trap air as you can see in the photos above. I also chose a sheltered spot so harsh winter winds shouldn't cool the box. I tucked it along to the end of a very small path leading into the original rockery of my garden. I originally made this path for my children to explore when they were toddlers! The large keystone at the front on the left was intended for them to sit on. I will guess that any passing hedgehogs will climb over it!

The photo below, taken in 2000, shows the layout of this area although the planting is a lot different now with small yak rhododendrons, grasses, penstemons, euphorbia, hostas, a pine tree, ferns and a lush ground covering of alpines. You can still see how the hedgehog could explore or climb over and along the edges. You can also see the hedge were it will get cover and too the wilder area in the background behind the trellis - this is where my Gunnera grows.

Step 3 : The fun part! I love being creative in my garden and although I want to encourage wildlife I do not want a totally wild garden. I like to create spaces that look interesting too - well at least to me anyway! The hedgehog won't be very fussy anyway as it doesn't have such good eyesight.

The top photo below shows my finished Hedgehog House. Not exactly a design I have seen in any books but I am really thrilled with how it blends into this area of my garden. I never planned to leave my box exposed and I had a spare strip of turf in need of a good home which I knew would make a great looking natural roof for my Hedgehog House. It would also keep the box warm.

I finally covered my box with three layers of turf and expect that the top layer will grow perfectly well. I let some pieces drape over the entrance and added two mossy rocks at either side of the entrance to lead the hedgehog in. I also added branches over the entrance to give it a bit of extra protection. I had one final thing to add - a generous scattering of sultanas at the entrance!


Extension required - well not exactly an extension but more of a porch. The last photo above was taken six days later when I added a tunnel to the entrance of my hedgehog house. I already had stones at the entrance then added a brick on the right side to hold a much larger flatter rock across the entrance. Why did I do this? Well, on reading my comments on this post about cats perhaps using my house I thought this was a worthwhile precaution. I also scattered lots more leaves around so now the hedgehog will have a bit of search to find it - may it will be more successful that way!

I have absolutely no idea if we will get any hedgehogs looking for a home now - perhaps they are already sorted. However it has been fun creating this area and I am certain some kind of wildlife will find its way in - I just hope it will be a hedgehog!

All photos above, unless otherwise stated, were taken in my garden on November 1st 2007.

14 comments:

Vanillalotus said...

I think that looks like a great place. If I was a hedgehog I would want to live there over anywhere else. You're so nice to your surrounding creatures. I hope something makes a home there.

shirl said...

Hi again, vanillalotus :-)

Thank-you! Perhaps our visiting Hedgehog already has a home but if there is still a homeless hog in my my area it would be wonderful if it discovered my newly built Hedgehog House :-D

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have transformed the plastic box into a hedgehog palace. I hope one moves in. If not it will be intersting to see who does move in. Maybe a toad or a neighbors cat.

shirl said...

Hi again, Lisa :-)

I was delghted with my transformation and even more so that I used materials I already had :-D

I don't expect a cat will get in the entrance but it will still be interesting to see what tenants we do get!

Jan said...

Shirl, that is fantastic, what a great idea. Just hope you get a grateful resident now. There's one in my box again now, but don't know if it will hibernate in there or not, nobody did last year, although it was used most of the summer just as a B&B joint! I don't want to go disturbing the straw to look either, last time I did that a few weeks back, he or she never went back in the next night.

shirl said...

Hi again, Jan :-)

Thanks! I was delighted with the finished result. However perhaps I have missed something – should I have put straw inside? I have barley hay that our guinea pigs eat should I add some of that?

LOL at B&B – good to have it used though. A hedgehog was spotted going to our feeding dish last night. But I also added sultanas along the path near the hedgehog house to tempt one along there. I would be great if it is used but I’m not sure how I will know – the blackbirds could find the sultanas. I hope your house gets used too :-D

Jan said...

I'm not sure about hay Shirl, if the same applies as for chickens, the answer would be no. Hay when it gets damp and mouldy gives off poisonous spores, so I've never used it for anything other than bedding and feeding that is going to be changed very regularly. Straw and woodchip is what I've always used, and the hogs normally drag in some of their own stuff, like dead leaves of course. Last year when I was nursing Ryan, and then released him, he carried on using the box, and when I went to check on him, he had dragged a poo bag (with some of Emma's poo in it) into his nest, wasn't sure whether to laugh or be sick! :D

Barbara said...

Hi Shirl, that is a perfect home for the hedgehogs. I'm sure they will feel fine and overwinter there. Our hedgehog family has gone now from the place they stayed during autumn. I guess they have found their winter place....at least I hope so, as it is cold now.
Have a nice weekend!
Barbara

shirl said...

Thanks for the info, Jan :-)

I will probably just leave my house unfurnished and it can decorate it as it likes. I perhaps should point out to anyone reading your comment that Emma is your dog :-D I think I would have been sick!

shirl said...

Hi again, Barbara :-)

Yes, I hope a hedgehog finds my house and uses it this winter :-D

I hadn’t realised that your hedgehogs were still in your garage until recently – how lovely if they had young there. I am guessing it is colder in Switzerland than Scotland at the moment so I hope your hedgehogs have found a good winter home :-D

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

My (almost 9 yr.old) son says "The hedgehog is cute. This is a good blog."

shirl said...

Hi again, Mr McGregor’s Daughter :-)

I am absolutely thrilled that your, almost 9yrs old, son likes my blog :-D :-D

I always hoped children would enjoy the photos, videos and stories of what goes on in a very ordinary garden. It would be wonderful to think that we could help children become interested in what goes on in their own space and had never noticed before! Maybe nest year we will have Blue Tits fledge from our Camera Nestbox now that would be great to share :-D

BTW baby hedgehogs are really cute although I have never seen one except in photos. Perhaps one day we will see them in my garden :-)

Anonymous said...

I have just come across your page with the hedgehog house - and was concerned that a plastic des res might not be acceptable!
We have been looking after Mr Hopeful for the winter having found him in a dreadful state covered in ticks and as thin as a rake. Not the case now of course as hes robust and feisty!
We want to convert his in doors des res(two plastic boxed with a pipe between them making a kitchen /diner and a separate bedroom!) to an outside shangrilla and so I just wanted to know..have you had any lodgers in yours??

shirl said...

Hi there Anon, sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. This mail got lost when I was filing others :-)

Great to hear you've had some hedgehog action. Fantastic that the hog is heavier too. Sounds quite a set up you have there - must have been great fun to make :-D

I have absolutley no idea if we have had any lodgers in our hedgehog house. I would love to know. I have to find a way of getting a small camera in there to see :-D

Good luck with your hog - hope you see more visiting!