I love hedgehogs! And where I live, they are an endangered species, so you can't just have them as a pet. However, because they are endangered, they need help to get back on their feet! And here is what you can do to make them a home they will love!
Important notice: Hedgehogs CAN NOT drink milk! They WILL DIE! A lot of people don't know this! If you want to feed them you can give them water and cat food or snails.
I built two hedgehog pallet homes in my garden, and as long as they are in two different ends of the garden, it is okay. They don't want to live too close to each other, but two in one garden is just fine.
Things to make sure to do, while building a hedgehog home:
- Make sure that they always have at least two entrances, so they cane escape if a dog or a fox is blocking the other entrance.
- They go into hibernation, and therefore the home should always be dry so they don't drown. Rain doesn't matter as long as their home is not in a hole. You can avoid this by placing the pallet on garden tiles or by making a sort of rain gutter. I made one of each in my project, so you can see it.
- Make sure to put tiles (or something heavy) on top of the pallet so dogs or foxes can't open up the pallet and eat the poor hedgehogs.
- Make sure that there are no nails sticking into the pallet, that the hedgehog can cut itself on. Hedgehogs are nocturnals and therefore nearly blind and wont be able to see it.
What you need to build the pallet home:
- A peaceful place in your garden, the less orderly the better. Possibly where you keep your compost
- A pallet
- Soil/ dirt
- Dead leaves or dried grass (this has to be dry so it doesn't start to rot inside the pallet)
- More dead leaves or compost (this doesn't have to be dry, because this goes on top to isolate)
- A tarpaulin or a big black plastic bag
- A big wooden board
- Garden tiles or a bunch of bricks
- A bunch of planks
- A shovel
- Hammer and nails
Step 1: Find a Peaceful Place in Your Garden
As I said before, I made two hedgehog pallet homes in my garden.
One underneath my compost, and one (in another corner far away) behind a lot of bushes. Hedgehogs love to hide, and their natural habitat is in the forest.
Once you've found a good place for them, start smoothing the ground so the pallet doesn't start tilting.
Also, try not to pick a spot in a hole, so the hedgehogs won't drown during heavy rain or when the snow starts melting.
Step 2: Waterproof the Spot! No Hedgehog Drowning!
Hedgehogs go into hibernation during the winter, and your pallet home is where they are going to stay. This is why it is super important to make sure that they don't drown!
I waterproofed the two pallet homes in my garden differently.
For the first one, I made a rain gutter out of garden tiles. The ground is tilting quite a lot in this spot, so I simply made my gutter in front of the hill, so that the water will run away on both sides of the pallet (the first two pictures).
The one underneath my compost, I simply raised the ground a little bit, by placing garden tiles underneath.
Step 3: Making the Pallet Into a Hedgehog Home
Use some of the planks to close most of the openings in the pallet. However, keep at least two openings/ entrances for the hedgehog to escape from, if a fox or a dog is guarding the other entrance.
A hedgehog entrance should be about 15 - 20 cm (about 6 - 8 inches) wide.
Also, make sure to remove all nails sticking out. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and therefore nearly blind and wont be able to see them, and they can easily cut themselves. Just nail them all the way down or remove them completely.
Step 4: Placing the Pallet
Before you place the pallet you need to place some planks underneath. Feel free to nail them onto before hand, but pallets are really heavy, and I decided to just place the planks on the ground, and then the pallet on top. As you can see I made three entrances in the pallet home in my bushes and two in the one underneath my compost. As long as you have two entrances you should be fine.
The planks underneath are for isolation, so that the hedgehog doesn't get super cold from the freezing ground or really cold garden tiles.
Step 5: Filling the Pallet With Dry Leaves and Grass
Hedgehogs loves dried leaves and grass! This is what they build their nest in, and that is why you have to fill the pallet with it.
It is very important that these leaves and this grass is absolutely dry! Otherwise they will start rotting inside the pallet.
Just stuff it into the pallet - enough to fill out the whole thing, but not so much that the hedgehog won't be able to push it aside to make room for itself.
Step 6: Wooden Board, Tarpaulin and Garden Tiles
On top of the pallet, you have to place a big wooden board. You can also use more planks here, but then I would suggest that you nail them down.
On top of that, you have to place the tarpaulin (or a big black plastic bag). This is to make sure that the hedgehog stays dry the whole winter.
Then you have to place some garden tiles (or a bunch of bricks). This is not only to keep the tarpaulin in place, but also to make sure that a dog or a fox won't be able to dig out the hedgehog. It has to be so heavy, that it will keep the wild animals out.
Step 7: Isolation and Soil
For the pallet home in my garden, I put some dead leaves (these can be wet) on top to isolate, and then I covered the whole thing with dirt.
For the compost pallet home, I also covered it in dead leaves, but not soil. Now, I am going to empty my kitchen waste (such as old carrots or other vegetables) onto the pallet home. Hedgehogs don't mind, this is where they usually live anyway in nature.
Step 8: The Entrances
These were taken before the project was all done, but here you can see the openings I made for the hedgehog.
Step 9: Done!
Now you are done! All you have to do is wait for the hedgehogs to come, or to give an organisation a call, and they might come and set one free in your garden. At least that is how it works where I live.
Because they are an endangered species, you have to promise only to pick them up, if they are ill or hurt. You cannot treat them as a pet, even though you might have to feed them when you first get them.
The hedgehogs the organisations set free in your garden, are often hedgehogs which have been hurt and are getting better, but they haven't been in real nature for a long time, which is why you have to feed them in the beginning.
And again, important notice: Hedgehogs CAN NOT drink milk! They WILL DIE! A lot of people don't know this! If you want to feed them you can give them water and cat food or snails.
Good luck with it! You can ask me anything, and I will answer your question as well as I can :)