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The perfect hedgehog home revealed

Wildlife charities the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have been urging people to help hedgehogs by building them homes in their gardens.

The recent heatwave has prompted more of us to help the nation’s favourite mammal, but what exactly makes the perfect hedgehog house?

Last year, the first ever Hedgehog Housing Census was carried out by The Hedgehog Street team,  a project run by BHPS and PTES.  The survey looked at how, when and why hedgehogs use either homemade or artificial hedgehog houses in gardens across Britain. Over 5,000 people contributed their findings and the results were analysed by the University of Reading, who were then able to reveal what hedgehogs appear to favour in a home.

  • Hedgehogs prefer homemade houses, but artificial houses are still a good alternative if they have the right features
  • Hedgehogs need time to get used to a new house before they use it
  • Feeding hedgehogs, putting water in your garden & providing bedding (such as dry leaves, pet straw or both) increases the chances of a resident hedgehog moving in
  • Hedgehogs prefer houses found in back gardens, in shaded areas.
  • Pets or badgers don’t appear to put off a ‘hog from moving in

In addition, the results showed that hedgehog houses positioned close to a residentialhome are most frequently used, which shows that hedgehogs have become used to human activity. Also, 81% found evidence that their hedgehog house was used for resting during summer daytime, 59% noted that it was used for hibernation during winter months and 28% said it was used for breeding.

Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street explains: “Until now we didn’t know what type of hedgehog house was best for hedgehogs and if they were even really used at all, as this area of hedgehog ecology simply hadn’t been studied. These results tell us that hedgehog houses are helping ‘hogs find a place to rest, hibernate and even breed. We can use these results to help conserve these animals and give the most accurate advice to anyone wanting to provide shelter for wild hedgehogs through our Hedgehog Street campaign.”

Emily continues: “It’s interesting to see that hedgehogs seem to prefer houses that have been in a garden for some time, but we hope that people won’t be disheartened if they have a newer hedgehog house, it just means hedgehogs need a little time to get used to it. If hedgehogs are provided with food and water in the garden (especially during this unusually hot weather), and the correct bedding in the house, this really encourages hedgehogs into your area, and they could become regular night-time visitors.”

Building your own hedgehog home is fun and easy to do and a great summer holiday activity. To download a PDF with simple instructions on how to build two different types of hedgehog house, visit: www.hedgehogstreet.org/housingcensus

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