With Winter just around the corner, having a comfy and warm home safe from the cold weather is something we all crave. But, it’s not just humans that want to feel the comfort of a warm home; wildlife does too.
Hedgehogs are in desperate need of safe and secure hibernation homes, and with the species becoming increasingly reliant on urban areas, they are becoming more at risk¹.
A hedgehog is a tiny and spiny mammal; they have short legs and bodies covered with porcupine-like quills. However, unlike porcupines, they are harmless.
Hedgehogs got their name from their unique foraging methods, where they root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of small creatures to eat. The ‘hog’ part of their name comes from the slight snorting noise they make, which is similar to a warthog².
Hedgehogs are an excellent addition to the wildlife community here in the UK, but unfortunately, the number of hedgehogs in the UK has plummeted over recent years. In 1995, there were an estimated 1.5 million hedgehogs in the UK. However, today, there is believed to be less than 500,000³.
Why and when do hedgehogs hibernate
Hibernation is an energy conservation strategy, and like other wildlife, hedgehogs need energy to maintain their daily activities, grow and move around. As winter approaches and as it gets colder outside, wildlife food, like beetles and caterpillars, becomes challenging to find, so hedgehogs slow down their energy use.
When hedgehogs go into hibernation, their bodies will become immobile, their heart rate will decrease and their body temperature will fall drastically; this will start in late December and early January.
With hibernation season upon us and Wildlife Conservation Day a few months away, we want to share three simple steps to creating the ultimate hibernation home.
Hammer and nails
Two metal hinges
Straw or dry leaves
A quiet, warm and shady spot
Easy access for hedgehogs
The first step to creating your hibernation home is to cut down your plywood into the correct dimensions. We recommend assembling the tunnel and main home separately, this way you won’t get confused with what wood is for which structure. Once you have cut the plywood to the correct dimensions, simply start assembling!
Make sure not to skip the assembly of the tunnel, this is an essential part of a hedgehog hibernation home as it will keep out any larger predators.
Secondly, pick the perfect shady spot in your garden to put your new hibernation home. Once you’ve scouted out the ideal place, set the structure down, lift the lid and place dry leaves inside; this will keep the hedgehog warm.
The final step is to cover the structure with polythene sheeting, this will ensure the hedgehog hibernation home is protected from the elements. However, it’s important to make sure the tunnel and any air holes are uncovered. Then, place dry leaves and soil on top and around the sheeting to ensure the structure is camouflaged.
So, if you fancy trying your hand at building a hedgehog hibernation home, now you know how! If you are unable to obtain plywood and the tools to create a solid structure, the alternative is to use cardboard. However, this would be a short-term solution as the structure wouldn’t be weatherproof.
If you use our guide to create a hedgehog hibernation home, take a picture of your completed home and share with us over on Twitter - @bramleys1