Best hedgehog houses for your wildlife garden | BBC Wildlife Magazine
The hedgehog is a cherished species in the UK, with its prickly spines and sweet little nose. However, numbers have declined and in 2022, they were classified as vulnerable to extinction in the UK.
A report in February 2022, published by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), showed that numbers had plummeted by between 30% and 75% across the rural landscape, with the worst declines in the East Midlands and East of England regions. In contrast, hedgehog numbers seem to have stabilised in urban areas, and may even be recovering.
Gardeners can help hedgehogs by providing food and shelter, and putting holes in fences (and encouraging others on their street to do so too).
For more wildlife gardening advice, check out our wildlife gardening hub which includes a wide variety of articles, such as how to make a bee hotel, the best wildlife gardening books and our garden bird nestbox guide.
What is a hedgehog house?
A hedgehog house is an artificial structure put into a garden to encourage hedgehogs to shelter or hibernate in, and perhaps even to have a female make her nest in. A house is normally designed so that it is insulated and can be used during winter, and ventilated during summer.
“Hedgehogs are in decline, so we need to do all we can to help them in our gardens and green spaces. Offering a hedgehog home or natural shelter in the form of an undisturbed log pile are good ways to welcome them in, making sure they have a safe spot to sleep. Offering meaty cat or dog food and water for them is great too.” Fay Vass, chief executive of the BHPS.
Houses can be checked for cleaning and maintenance, but the general advice is to only do it once a year – and obviously not if you know it’s currently in use.
Hedgehogs will make their own nests, known as hibernacula, if there are appropriate materials around and suitable places to do so.
How to make a hedgehog house
Hedgehog houses can be made from scratch from timber. The BHPS recommends that if you want to use treated wood, only water based preservatives can be used, and “on no account should the hedgehog house be creosoted or treated with non-water based preservatives as the fumes remain for a long time and can be very harmful.”
The roof should be removable so that you are able to clean it out when it is not in use (or if you are rehabilitating hedgehogs and need to check on them), and the entrance and/or tunnel should be narrow so that predators cannot gain access.
Where to place a hedgehog house:
Hedgehog houses should be placed in a quiet, sheltered and shady spot, out of the prevailing wind (and not facing North or North East), and ideally under shrubs where hedgehog will not be disturbed. It can be camouflaged with leaves and brushwood. Short lengths of dry grass and leaves can be placed inside as nesting material.
Hedgehog conservationist and author Hugh Warwick on hedgehog houses:
One of the citizen science projects that the Hedgehog Street campaign undertook was the Hedgehog Housing Census. I was sceptical as to the value of these structures – not helped by being shown hedgehogs ignoring them and creating nests against the lovingly built or bought houses! But I was wrong. The survey showed that hedgehogs really do use them, both bought and built; with a preference for built.
It can take a while for hedgehogs to start using nestboxes, so don’t be downhearted if you install one and it’s not immediately occupied. They are used more often in back gardens and in sheltered spots. Providing food (in the garden, not in the house) and bedding, increases the chances of them being used.
Best hedgehog houses
Hogilo Hedgehog House
This is a top of the range product for hedgehogs, made from recycled agricultural plastic (a great way to reuse old plastic material!) and FSC-certified timber. The entry is smaller than a five-inch square space, preventing predators such as badgers and foxes from gaining access.
The lid can be lifted and swivelled in order to provide easy access for cleaning, or for checking on rehabilitated hedgehogs. There is built-in air ventilation and an internal tunnel.
The measurements are: 230 x 520 x 385 mm (and 4.36kg).
RSPB Silhouette hedgehog home
A very neat and stylish hedgehog home made in the UK from FSC-certified pine, with an overhanging and sloping roof and the silhouette of a hedgehog in the side. The roof is secured down to stop it being pried off by potential predators, or dislodged whilst you go about your gardening, but it can be removed for cleaning. It comes with ventilation holes and an internal tunnel.
It also comes with a pre-drilled camera home, if you were thinking of installing a wildlife camera to keep an eye on your hoggy residents.
The measurements are:
- External measurement (including walls and roof): 53 x 40 x 23.5cm.
- Internal measurement (hedgehog living space): 43 x 34 x 17cm.
Cameron Bespolka Trust Hedgehog Home
This hedgehog house is handcrafted at the Minstead Trust, a Hampshire charity supporting people with learning disabilities. It it made from untreated recycled timber, and includes a concealed internal entrance to protect its residents from predators. It is stamped with the Cameron Bespolka Trust logo, and raised up on battened feet to prevent rot.
It can be delivered in the Winchester area. If outside of the area, you will need to contact the Trust about posting it.
The measurements are: 33cms high x 41cms wide & 52cms deep.
National Trust Luxury Pine Hedgehog House
Produced by CJ Wildlife for the National Trust, this hedgehog house is made from FSC-certified pine timber and is raised up on battened feet to prevent rot. The tunnel entrance prevents predators from gaining access.
The measurements are: 39.5cm length x 38cm width x 31cm height.
RSPB Classic Hedgehog House Kit
Cheaper than the other RSPB hedgehog house (see above), this hedgehog house comes as a flatpack kit for you to construct at home (note: it does not come with the screwdriver required for construction). It’s made from planed FSC-certified timber in the UK, and has a pitched roof with ventilation holes and inner tunnel. The roof can be lifted off for cleaning.
The measurements are 52.5cm x 20.5cm (including roof).
Henry Bell Hedgehog House
With a slatted and sloping roof, this wooden hedgehog house from fourth-generation family-owned British business Henry Bell as part of its new wildlife collection, and can provide shelter to your garden hedgehogs. It does not come with an internal tunnel or tunnel entrance, so concerned gardeners may wish to add to it, in order to make it harder for predators such as badgers and foxes to gain access to the hedgehog residents. It also comes without a base. The house is made in China from FSC-certified European pine timber.
The measurements are 37cm x 35cm x 22cm.