Hedgehog charities are urging people to give the spiky endangered mammals refuge from the blazing heat in their gardens.
A census by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has discovered that hedgehogs prefer homemade houses in back gardens in shaded areas, and that they are not put off moving in by pets or badgers.
The Hedgehog Street team want people to spend an afternoon of the school holidays making a safe home for the nation’s favourite mammal, which is at risk of being extinct in the next 10-15 years.
Emily Wilson, hedgehog officer for Hedgehog Street, said: “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.”
The house could be as simple as a spare plastic storage box, planter or milk crate turned upside down. It should have air holes in and a 13X13cm entrance, with bedding like dry leaves or pet straw.
More than 5,000 people responded to the census carried out between August and October last year, whose results were analysed by the University of Reading.
It found that 81% found evidence that their hedgehog house was used for resting during the summer, 59% said it was used for hibernation during the winter and 28% said it was used for breeding.
For simple instructions on how to build two types of hedgehog houses on a downloadable PDF, visit: www.hedgehogstreet.org/housingcensus.
Image courtesy of Hedgehog Street, with thanks.