I love hedgehogs... I've wanted one as a pet for as long as i can remember, but I never did get one, especially knowing the bad and the ugly behind the animal trade. I had never seen a wild hedgehog, since we lived in the tropical and sunny Costa Rica, and there are none there. But since we moved to Europe, I've had quite a few encounters with these adorable things. I've heard and read a lot about their recent decline, especially in Europe due to habitat loss and killings, so why not lend a helping hand to these creatures that do us so much good?
Step 1: Why Attract Hedghogs to Your Garden?
Recent studies show that hedgehog numbers have decreased drastically, for example the number in the UK is estimated to be as low as one million. Unlike wildlife charities' traditional "poster animals" – often called charismatic mega-fauna – like lions and whales, you can actually get close to hedgehogs. They are a gardener's best friend. They love eating slugs, caterpillars and beetles, and other unwanted invertebrates. The destruction of our landscape has destroyed their natural habitat, leaving them with no chance of survival.
There's lots of different ways of helping animals in need, and one great way is making a small safe haven for hedgehogs!
Put out some water for them, be careful when you cut the grass since they can be hard to see, leave some parts of your garden "unkempt" so they can have a place to hide, but also, you can make a hutch in a secluded shed, where there won't be much noise or danger.
Step 2: What You Need
- I used an old wooden bucket/mini barrel
- Wood glue if the pieces of wood are not already stuck together
- Some dry hay
Step 3: Making the Hutch
Get an old wooden bucket, or a small wine barrel, and usually they're only held together by a metal wire or something that holds them together, so take it apart. My buckets' bottom board was made of two pieces, which was great so i didn't have to cut it in half. It was really old though, so i had to choose the boards that were in the best shape, for our half-circle hutch.
I put each half of the semicircle boards on a flat surface, and took my time finding the boards that would fit together properly. We will only be using one of the semicircle side boards, since I'll be taking one out later to be used as an entrance.
Step 4: Glue It Together
Using wood glue, apply it to all the boards, except for one of the half-circle ones so it's not that hard to remove after drying. Put the pieces together and making sure they're put well in place so they won't fall apart, I put some scrap boards over it and put a bunch of stuff on top as weights (if not the glue won't stick the wood together), some hammers, heavy boards, etc...
Step 5: Finishing It Up
Once it was dry (I left it overnight), I removed the end piece that wasn't glued. Then I did a bit of hand sanding, then stained it with some red oxide wash, since it has no weird smell that might repel hedgehogs.
Step 6: Put It Somewhere Safe
Find a spot that's secluded and peaceful, but not somewhere that's hard to get into or else your hedgehog may never find it. I put it in an wood shed with a bunch of hay so they can burrow, give them some water, and wait! I see the one in our garden and in the shed every couple days so I'm hoping he'll find it! If one does take up the spot, don't try checking on him too often since they're shy creatures, but be very quiet when you do. You can also leave bits of cooked chicken or something else with a stronger smell, but never give them bread.
Good luck welcoming your not so furry friend!