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When to check Hedgehog Houses and/or intervene

Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog When to check Hedgehog Houses and/or intervene

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    Hi there

    We’ve had hedgehogs sporadically in the garden every summer since we moved in here in 2016. We purchased a ‘fake moss’ igloo type hedgehog house a year ago but it wasn’t being used so I relocated it to a corner of the garden this year. Besides, we think they are nesting under our shed as it’s raised onto sleepers, so there’s gaps underneath, plus our cat is curious and sniffs about near there (he doesn’t bother them though). Since changing our fence this year, I made sure there was a Hedgehog Highway hole to help encourage them and we’ve had a few appear this summer.

    As the igloo style house wasn’t being used, I wanted to make a sturdier wooden house as a project (based on plans online). I completed it this week and went to put the wooden house in the sheltered spot where I’d moved the igloo type house to. I noticed there appeared to be lots of leaves stuffed in the doorway, so I sought advice and placed a lolly stick near the entrance to see if it moved at all. So far it hasn’t. The last actual sighting we had was a week ago when it was raining and 2 hoggies were huffing about on the lawn under the bird feeder. I’ve left food out but the last few days it’s been untouched. (We also adapted a really useful box to keep the food dry).

    Today I gently lifted the igloo house and there were obvious signs of nesting as there were so many leaves inside that they’d formed the shape of the igloo house itself. I didn’t touch or disturb them for fear of there being babies within the pile so gently placed the igloo back down over the leaves.

    What I want to know is…

    – Is it okay to investigate the nest or should I just leave it be for now? As we’ve not seen the h/hogs in our garden for a week or so, would they have abandoned the nest? The food we’ve put out isn’t being eaten (wet and dry food)….which leads to my next Q

    – Could there be dead ones inside? I noticed a couple of flies near the entrance but didn’t know if that was just normal or if they were attracted to poo or something else inside?

    – Would the adults nest away from the hoglets? ie would the adults be under the shed and leave the babies inside the igloo house? This seems unlikely.

    I have placed my wooden hog house next to the igloo one for now and placed a twig across the doorway to see when it’s being used. I’ve created it in a way that a roof panel comes off for cleaning. Am hoping they use it for Winter hibernation. When would be the best time next year to inspect and clean it?

    Really want to help our little spiky friends so any advice welcomed x

    Avatar photo

    Hi flora1972

    One year is not long to leave a potential hog house in place. Some hogs will use them immediately, but others won’t until they become part of the scenery, i.e. for a couple of years. So it is best to decide on a good place for a hog house (of any description) and then leave it there.

    It is never a good idea to disturb hog houses, especially if there appears to have been some kind of bedding taken in. A mother hedgehog will sometimes desert or kill her young if they are very tiny, if she is disturbed. Hog houses should only be disturbed or cleaned out if you are absolutely certain that a hog isn’t using it. The stick test is a good idea, but if the mother is in there with very small young, she may not come out for a while. It’s difficult to know whether there is something dead in the nest with the flies outside. But I would be inclined to leave it, again, unless you are absolutely certain that it is the box which is attracting the flies – that there hasn’t been any food nearby which could have attracted them, etc. – and that the box is not being used.

    Really it’s best not to intervene with hedgehogs at all, unless they are obviously sick or injured. i.e. out in the open during the day, sunbathing, etc. which are not normal behaviour. They have been managing for millions of years without our help. So providing them with boxes, is fine, but to them that is just a structure which they can build their nests within – similar to some bushes planted close together, as in hedges, etc., but then let them get on with how they choose to use them.

    If there were hoglets in a nest, depending on their size/age the mother may take a break from the hoglets, and rest somewhere else. That is one of the exceptions to the rule that hogs should not be out during the day time. Nursing Mothers will sometimes take a rest away from the hoglets during the day. (the Mother has sole care of the hoglets – the Father has nothing to do with raising of hoglets and is likely not to even know his offspring, should they ever happen to meet)

    You might find the following interesting:
    Although a degree of common sense is required. Sometimes a box needs cleaning out at other times, but as mentioned previously, do not disturb unless you are absolutely certain that the box isn’t being used.

    Good luck with the hogs. Hopefully there are some hoglets around somewhere and you will soon see them.


    I find using straw is a good way of knowing if they have been in or out of the home – put some in the entrance, and check next day if it’s been flattened.

    I did that to a nest I witnessed a hedgehog make during the night – I decided to leave some straw near the entrance, not to see if he was using it but to give him something he could use as nesting material – and the next day he hadn’t flattened it, but he had made a hole through it which was really cute.

    Then the week after the straw disappeared and has gone inside the nest.

    I’ve also got a wooden hedgehog house, and use straw and have some in the entrance, and someone has visited it as the straw has been flattened in the entrance,

    The thing is with twigs, they might step over it, and manage to get in and out without moving the twig, or the wind might move it, so you’d never be completely sure.


    Hi Flora1972

    I have a wooden hedgehog house which I have had for about a year now.

    I knew they were around as I had seen droppings & put out some hog food. When I first got the house I put straw outside & a little inside. It took a few nights but the straw was taken in and taking a peek by lifting the lid it had made a wonderful round nest. I couldn’t tell if there was a hog in there though and still don’t know, although they are around every night eating the food & drinking the water I put out. We see them occasionally around the food if we are up after 11pm – they are so cute. But we have never seen them around their house which is at the back of our garden.

    I love to think I am helping the hedgehog community. 🙂

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