New hedgehog resident, know little about them but looking for advice
7th October 2021 at 10:15 pm #34368
Newbie to the forum, and looking for some advice.. Apologies if this has been discussed in an earlier post but I’d much rather write my own post rather than search through the forum.
My missus and I have been living at our property for a couple of years, she had told me that she had seen a hedgehog(s) when leaving for work early in the mornings for the last several months.
We live in a cul-de-sac off the main road with access to around a dozen gardens, how many of those are accessible to Hogs, I’m not sure. Well my partner actually spotted a visitor in our garden one evening a couple of weekends ago.. So being a carpenter and avid animal lover, I built a rather large hedgehog house (would love to upload some pictures but I’m not sure how with the site as of yet) and put it between our garden fence and back of summer house, and lined it with hay. I also cut an opening into a bucket and set up a feeding /water station nearby.
We’ve been feeding Purina One with hedgehog pellets each evening. I put out approx several grams of cat biscuits and a pinch of hedgehog pellets late afternoon, than top up cat biscuits around 10-11PM after the hedgie has been. The cat biscuits are always all gone. It leaves the hog pellets in the evening, but all are gone along with the additional cat biscuits by morning. My thinking is to give him/her a supplementary ‘breakfast’ and ‘supper’ with room to forage for its natural diet inbetween.
So it’s been almost two weeks, and there were signs the house has been used, this evening I took a sneak peak inside the house (I’ve fitted a felt roof on hinges – weighed down with a few bricks). There are several number twos in the house which I’ve left.
The reason for my post is basically to ask if there is anything else I could be doing or doing better. Do I leave the number twos or clean a few out from time to time? Are my feeding methods OK? I know this is a critical point in a hedgies life for them to get enough reserves to survive the winter.
Any advice would be hugely appreciated, as I don’t know anyone with much knowledge of them.
Thanks in advance,
P.S. Sorry for war and peace ✌️8th October 2021 at 2:07 pm #34379
Sounds like you’re doing pretty well and have got most things right so far! I would put out more food if you can- as you say this is a critical time and you probably have more than one hog visiting, so I try to leave enough out that there’s always a few biscuits left over, rather than a hog coming later on when it’s all run out. Each hog can make multiple visits to a single garden in a night, so the food probably gets finished quite quickly. They don’t tend to prefer different foods at different times of the night, so if they are showing a clear preference for the cat biscuits by eating them first, it might indicate they are getting more of the nutrients they need at this time from the cat food. You don’t NEED to provide what is labeled as hedgehog food- it’s not licensed or regulated, so anyone could mix up whatever and call it hedgehog food, so it can be difficult to know what is in there or how good it might be for them, although the meaty type foods are the most appropriate. A lot of us, myself included, just feed them cat biscuits, although some hogs also enjoy wet cat or dog food. (I tried mine on wet cat food, and they did not want to know. Fussy little spikeballs.)
As for the hog house, my instinct would be to clean it but I’m not an expert. I’ve seen them coming out of their nests to go toilet before, but maybe they aren’t staying over in yours yet? It’s good that they are investigating in any case, hopefully they will trust it enough stay over regularly, or build a hibernation nest in there.8th October 2021 at 2:49 pm #34380
You could also speak to your neighbours and collaborate on making ‘Hedgehog Highways’ small holes between fences to ensure hedgehogs can pass between gardens easily, access more food and don’t need to go onto the road so much. You can also speak to them about hedgehog awareness, being careful with their dogs, checking for hogs before using strimmers and lawnmowers, and avoiding poisons, like rat poison, slug pellets and herbicides.
I recently got new neighbours on one side, and they had seen the row of tiny houses in my garden and were absolutely flummoxed as to what they were for, and approached me to ask about it. Their best guess was ferrets, apparently. I envy you being a carpenter and having the skills to take on building hog houses- I have made mine out of whatever I can find, but don’t have the woodworking skills to build them from scratch.9th October 2021 at 7:59 pm #34409
Thanks for your reply. I’ve upped the food and there was a few biscuits left this morning so I seem to have the quantity about right for now. I had heard that cat biscuits were best as they were regulated, but i bought the hedgehog pellets a month or two ago before I started thinking more seriously about feeding them (which was after we saw them in the garden).
OK thanks, I’ll take another look in the house in a day or two and see what it’s like, maybe give it a bit of a clean out.
My neighbour has mentioned seeing them around before, I’ll ask her if she’d like to give them an access point to her back garden, I’ll see if I can approach some of the others.. we just don’t know most of the houses as the other 2 closest houses have recently moved.
Blimey.. an army of ferrets in your back garden, that would be something haha! I’m also fortunate to be able to get 90% of materials from work too, otherwise it would be rather expensive to make yourself.
How large a garden do you have/how many houses? Do you know how many of them get occupied through the year? Would like to add more but were a little limited on space as our conservatory, decking and summer house take up most the room : /9th October 2021 at 10:45 pm #34410
Welcome to the Forum!
If a hog poos in a house being used for feeding, yes, definitely clear them out daily. Hogs will poo around feeding areas and that is best cleaned regularly.
If it is a house a hog is in, they should only be cleaned out if you are absolutely certain that a hog is not in residence. Disturbing a hog whilst it’s in a nest is best avoided, although most don’t seem to poo in their nests. The exception to that might be where a hog has been in care and become accustomed to pooing in whatever container it is being kept in. i.e. it might continue to do that after release.
But if, as it sounds a hog has just wandered in and pooed in there, ie. has not started builidng a nest, I would clean it out. If you do clean it out, you should not use chemicals, but they are best cleaned with boiling water to kill any parasite eggs which may have been left behind.
Most hogs prefer to do their own interior decorations so it’s best to only put in a handful of material to give them the idea and leave loads of other suitabale materials available in your garden. i.e. don’t be too tidy. Medium sized leaves are their preference but also long grasses are useful for binding it all together. They will also sometimes pick a certain amount of green material. I’ve seen one on video tugging away at plants!
Re. the food, I agree, I would be inclined to offer a little more – it will only take you a day or two to work out if you are leaving too much. Some meaty hog foods are ok. BHPS tip is to check that meat is the first ingredient. But if you have found something the hogs like it’s best not to change it – they can be fussy little things and like what they’re used to! So as long as it’s meaty cat/dog/hog food or cat/kitten biscuits it should be ok.
You might like to see Hedgehog Street information re. linking gardens:
You can put photos on Hedgehog Street by going to the Home page then click on Gallery then upload images. You will find there is loads more information on Hedgehog Street – well worth exploring and may answer some questions you didn’t even know you had!9th October 2021 at 10:52 pm #34411
p.s. this is a link re. cleaning hog houses. https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/cleaning-out-boxes/
You can really put as many hog houses as you can fit in your garden. But the nest building material can be as important as the hog houses. Both could be in short supply if gardens are tidied up too much for the winter.
Good luck. Hope you get a tenant in your hog house.9th October 2021 at 11:49 pm #34413
Re. “… it might indicate they are getting more of the nutrients they need at this time from the cat food…”
Hogs don’t tend to know whether the food we offer is good for them, i.e. that have more of the nutrients they need. They will likely eat what they are offered, which was the problem with people feeding them mealworms – which were not good for them but they still liked them. They would fill up on them and not eat other natural food which would probably have been better for them. So it’s up to us, if we are going to offer food for the hogs, to make sure the food is as good for them as we can manage.
So if hogs are eating more of one type of food, when two types are offered, it’s probably just because they prefer that.10th October 2021 at 12:11 am #34414
Hi again Darren,
I have 6 houses currently, hoping to make a couple more. All of them have had hogs sleeping over at some point, and I think 3 or 4 are occupied each day, although not always the same houses, they sometimes swap around. As for year round, I only saw the hogs this summer, although it was a bit of a shock when I realised I’d already had a nest with baby hogs in my garden for several weeks. So I don’t know how many of the houses might be used for hibernation purposes, although I hope some of them are used.
No, my garden is not particularly big. We have often heard of hogs nesting underneath sheds/summerhouses or under decking though, so if they have access to the space under these features and plenty of nesting material they may well set up nests there. My shed is unfortunately on concrete, which is a shame as there would be space for at least half a dozen hogs under there! I have tried to disguise and decorate the hog houses by putting pot plants on them, but this obviously didn’t work too well given the neighbours clearly recognised I’d set up houses for something, even though they couldn’t work out what.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you can’t or shouldn’t feed them hedgehog food, only that it’s not necessary and it can be really hard to tell what you’re getting. We are all trained to respect a label though, we assume the packaging will tell us the truth, but where it’s not approved, licensed or regulated, there is no guarantee that the foods are suitable for hedgehogs. I would have probably bought them myself if I didn’t already have cat food on hand. It’s just automatic, like if I had a hamster, I would get them hamster food, and the same with rats or guinea pigs. You believe that food must be suitable, safe and healthy for the animal it’s intended for, but with hedgehogs it’s not always the case. Some of the foods are excellent, of course, but even then they tend to be overpriced because you can get something similar cheaper because it’s on the cat food market.
Glad to hear you’ve upped the food and that there was a little left over. Just providing food, water and housing is a massive help for hedgehogs, and makes a real and immediate difference to their chances of surviving winter.10th October 2021 at 12:27 am #34415
Yeah, you’re totally right, I was thinking after I said it that hogs clearly can’t be trusted to know what’s good for them, as is shown by the mealworms etc which apparently they love but are so dangerous. I was reading an article yesterday that pointed out that they also eat creosote. Reminds me of when the cats were kittens and they kept trying to chew/eat stuff that was unsuitable, unhealthy or just plain inedible. They are mostly better now they’re adults but I still have to be careful with parcels as one of them enjoys chewing on sellotape, of all things.10th October 2021 at 5:02 pm #34421
Two additional thoughts / ideas for you. Do make sure you put out a good sized bowl of water for them. Ours almost seem to drink more than they eat. They can spend a good 3-4 minutes at the bowl at a time.
The second thing is that Purina One is probably brilliant for your cat but one thing I learnt from another forum last year is that hedgehog mouths are relatively small so, if you can, try getting some kitten biscuit which is smaller and easier for the to handle. That said, it sounds like yours are tucking in happily!10th October 2021 at 7:16 pm #34424
Yes, you’re right, water is very important. Preferably left available all day every day. Although DazP92 did mention a feeding/water station. Ideally there would be several water sources in different parts of a garden. Wide but shallow plant saucers are ideal for that. Hogs can usually find some food ‘in the wild’ but can’t always find water.
Adult hogs should be able to manage cat biscuits ok, although kitten biscuits might be easier for hoglets.10th October 2021 at 8:08 pm #34428
Thanks guys for your replies,
@Kitty haha don’t worry, I didn’t take offence or anything. I shouldve said I bought the hedgehog nuggets while I was shopping in a garden centre a month or two ago, and thought as we had some local, it may come in handy. As I got more serious and read up on them, I read as you said, that ‘hedgehog food’ could be anything and that cat biscuits were better as they’re regulated, so that’s why I bought some especially (don’t own cats, just Degus and tropical fish). It’s Tom Chambers ‘Hungry hedgehog blend’ if that means anything 😂.. It is indeed more expensive than cat biscuits by quantity, but I add a pinch of them along with a lot of cat biscuits just to use them up really.
I’ve wondered where it may be nesting as I believe it’s very local (think it visits around half 7 as I’ve been out at 8 and the food has been eaten). Also have a compost heap so it could be in there possibly.. Don’t think it would be under the decking as there isn’t anyway to get underneath as far as I’m aware. Maybe I’ll cut a hole under it so it could be used with other hoggies. Was thinking of setting up another food station, and will consider more houses once I can get work to order more sheets of ply haa!10th October 2021 at 8:16 pm #34429
I’m pretty confident it’s not being used as a residence although I will make sure before I do anything. Thank you for the links. Unfortunately, my garden isn’t under any trees and with the exception of weeds, there isn’t much greens or anything to use as nesting material so it may be that they don’t use it as a nest, which would be a shame but atleast it gives them a source of food/temp shelter perhaps. I did read that hogs prefer the ritual of making their own house, so I didn’t add too much hay. I’ve asked my parents who have an oak tree in their garden to gather leaves so I can scatter them about but as we have had a ‘late’ summer, they don’t seem to be shedding yet. I will continue to add more food however and monitor any activities. I’ll attempt to add some pictures at some stage too, thanks again!10th October 2021 at 8:23 pm #34430
Thanks for your advice. Don’t worry, I do have a bowl of water right beside the food, under the ‘feeding bucket’. I clean and top it up each day.
I’m a nightmare when making decisions, to the point I sat in the pet Aisle of Sainsburys for a good 5-10 minutes researching and deciding if I should choose between adult or kitten cat biscuits. I think the adult food had less fat and more protein which seemed more recommended on sites as opposed to kitten food so I went with that.. But i will keep kitten biscuits in mind for the spring incase I get a nesting hedgie/hoglets. The food is definitely disappearing, and the adult cat biscuits are half the size of the mentioned hog pellets, so it doesn’t seem an issue for now atleast.10th October 2021 at 9:26 pm #34432
Yeah, the hogs are coming out earlier and earlier now it’s getting dark so soon. I guess it’s more time for them to forage but I must admit I find the early evenings depressing. If you can watch out for it you might work out if it’s actually living in your garden or coming in from elsewhere. They can hide away in odd corners… During the summer I had a hedgehog that always seemed to visit first thing in the morning. It wasn’t until we saw the baby hogs that I realised she was nesting in our garden and every morning we saw her coming home to bed. The nest was in a tiny area of long grass, which even now I swear was not big enough for even one hog, let alone mother hog and three hoglets.
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