Without wanting to sound like someone from a popular fantasy-drama, 'winter is coming', and while some animals like bats go into a sort of deep sleep (torpor), others like hedgehogs go into full blown hibernation. This means they need a really cosy place to hole up for the winter.
Our beloved hedgehog has had a tough time of late, declining by a third between 2003 and 2012, but by creating places for hedgehog food to thrive and by building hedgehog hibernation spots we can help them out.
There are lots of models of hedgehog homes, AKA 'hogitats'.
For a really swanky home that will survive for years you can simply buy one, or you could try making this one.
But for a simple, snug and perfectly lovely home-made hogitat all you need is:
This example is taken from our young kids magazine Wildtimes, so why not get your little ones involved in the building process? (Excluding the bits with scissors of course!)
1) Cut thin slits in each side of the box, so the hedgehog can breathe.
2) Cut out a square about 15 cm by 15 cm on the front for an entrance hole.
3) Put shredded newspaper and dry grass inside.
4) Place your hedgehog house in a quiet part of the garden. Cover it with plastic to stop it getting too wet.
5) Cover the sides and top with grass, twigs and leaves. Now leave the house alone all winter, so that your hedgehog can hibernate in peace.
At this time of year you might be piling up twigs and branches in preparation for 5 November. Please check your bonfires carefully for sleeping hedgehogs before lighting them.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society recommends moving the bonfire to a new sight before lighting it, but if this isn't possible, use broom handles to lift it from the base and torches to see into the dark spots to check for sleeping beauties.
Signs of hedgehogs
The two most sure fire signs that you have hedgehogs in your garden are their tracks/footprints and their droppings.
Their prints have five distinct toes on the front and back. To improve your chances of seeing these prints you can try making our animal tracker (download here).
For details about their droppings check out the Hedgehog Street website. Please be careful not to touch them though, for obvious hygiene reasons.
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