With the hedgehog population declining rapidly, there has never been a better time to lend our spiky little friends a helping hand. But how can you be sure that the hedgehogs will get to dine on the food and water you leave for them before the local cat gets its paws on it? The answer is to build a hedgehog feeding box.
By following our instruction on how to make a hedgehog feeding box, you will give any hedgehog visitors to your garden a safe haven in which they can enjoy their food in relative peace, and best of all, it’s cheap and easy to make.
When should I set up my hedgehog feeding box?
Hedgehogs are pretty much always on the forage for food, so anytime of the year apart from winter, when they will be hibernating, it is good.
Hedgehogs usually give birth in June and July, so they will need extra food to provide them with enough energy to raise their babies, and then they will build up their fat supplies before winter comes around to survive hibernation, so be sure to help them at these important times.
What should I feed hedgehogs in my feeding box?
Hedgehogs are the pickiest of eaters, so you can either get some hedgehog food from the pet store, or simply use canned cat or dog food. They will also eat dry cat biscuits. Don’t feed them bread or milk as this can cause the hedgehogs to get stomach problems.
How to know if it’s a hedgehog or cat that is eating the food I leave in my hedgehog feeding box?
A good sign that it is indeed a hedgehog that is benefitting from your hard work, and not the neighbour’s cat, is to check the food bowls you place in the box the next day. If the bowl is completely clean, it is likely that a cat has managed to get a hold of the food and then licked the plate/bowl clean. Hedgehogs don’t do this, and instead they usually leave a few crumbs behind, so this is a good sign that the food is going where it is intended.
How to make a hedgehog feeding box: step by step
- Pick a good spot for your hedgehog feeding box, preferably one that is close to where the animals enter your garden, but not too close that it blocks the way. Still, it should be close enough so that cats can’t get into the space between the fence and the box’s entrance. If you can have it in a sheltered area, then all the better, as hedgehogs have to be wary of cats and having to cross open areas leaves them vulnerable. Don’t place the box near a garden pond that doesn’t have a sloped/easily to exit side or the hedgehogs could fall in and then not be able to get out and end up drowning. Hedgehogs are naturally very inquisitive and will not be afraid of getting too close to the water, and this often ends up with them falling in.
- With your spot picked out, the next thing to decide on is whether you will build your feeding box out of a wooden or plastic box.
Whichever you decide upon, it should be at least 1 foot by 1.5 feet, but preferably bigger, and have a lid that is easy to remove by hand but seals well.
- Once you’ve got your box, you’re going to have to cut out an entrance hole in one of the sides. I cut mine in one of the shorter sides of a rectangular plastic box and it works well. The hole you cut needs to be around 5 inches by 5 inches. If using a wooden box, you’ll need to use a saw, but a decent pair of scissors or Stanley knife will suffice for a plastic box. After cutting the hole, it’s best to make sure the edges are not jagged or sharp enough to hurt the hedgehogs as they come and go, so sand down if using wood, or use tape on plastic.
- Get some old newspaper and use it to line the bottom of the feeding box. Then place two small dishes, one for food and one for water, at the furthest point away from the entrance hole that you made. Put food and water on the dishes and then replace the lid. Place a house brick or two on top of the lid to stop cats or foxes opening it and getting inside.
- That’s all there is to it. You now have a perfect little hedgehog feeding box. Just make sure you check on it on a daily basis, change the newspaper regularly, and also clean the food and water dishes to keep things hygienic. Not changing the newspaper can lead to parasites being passed from one animal to another.
Other ideas to keep cats out of your hedgehog feeding box are to place a saucer or tray of water directly in front of the entrance hole. This won’t stop a hedgehog from getting in, but cats don’t like getting wet, and it might stop them from reaching in for the food.
Another option is for you to build a tunnel that leads from a sheltered area into the box. This could be something as simple as some corrugated plastic folded into a triangular shaped tunnel, and you could put some paper down to try and capture the hedgehog’s footprints.
Don’t try to make your feeding box anything other than exactly that. What I mean is, don’t try to make it a place for them to nest and sleep in, leave it only for feeding. If you want to help hedgehogs find a safe place to sleep or hibernate in, as well as find out other ways to help protect them, check out Everything you need to know about hedgehogs articles.
Until next time, here on the Garden Toolbox.