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Hedgehog homes and feeding stations

I have a number of hedgehogs in the garden fortunately. In the back garden I have one hedgehog house and two feeding stations. One of the feeding stations was purchased it has a longish tunnel and a domed roof, the other I made from a plastic box with snap on lid ( with air vents just in case) . 

In the tunnel feeding station I have noticed leaves being put around the dish. At first I thought this was odd to cleared them out. But they have reappeared. Not only that but this morning half of the food I put out has not been eaten and leaves again have been put on top of the bowl.

1) Do hedgehogs hide food under leaf litter prior to hibernating? 

I usually feed them semi moist hedgehog food in pellet form ( spikes) and the ark dried hedgehog biscuits. Dried banana chips, mixed seed, nut and insect based hedgehog food and dried mealworms. This is alternated between wet cat food ( i get organic meat based no additives or fish) with a topping of the seed and mealworms mix and banana. 

So as you can imagine my hedgehogs are robust, in fact some of them can't squeeze under the gate any more but have rerouted from behind the garage and under the fence! 

2) The  two hedgehog homes - one I made from a large cardboard box covered with a bin bag and with air vents . This is placed under a woodpile and the entrance had a tube to deter cats etc. I noticed some newspaper shavings being dragged out with foot traffic so assume it was used last winter and wonder if I need to clean it out for this winter or am I too late?  

The other home is a purchased one. But no one seems to want to use this? They used to use it as a feeding station till I made another one out of a plastic box. I thought that keeping feeding stations separate from hibernation boxes was best. So it seems the hedgehogs go into the house where I have put some hay have pushed it around and made little rounded indentations but are not in there for long. How can I encourage them to use this? 

Lastly what if as I suspect they are eyeing up the feeding station with the tunnel as a potential hibernation site this just sits on gravel under a large Apple tree and in plain sight of our patio. Should I put in on a palet to protect it from the damp and  is is warm or big enough to House a hog over winter? I may have to cover it again with some roofing felt and sticks etc. 

So home-made Hog House in cardboard in large front garden which has a large wild flower meadow natural area, wood piles and sheds etc. Should I change it change it clean out bedding etc?

Back garden smaller with mowed lawns but access to fields at the bottom of the garden rural area suffolk. The purchased hog house vacant how can I attract potential tenants. 

3) How far away from hibernation home should feeding station be to not attract rats? 

Sorry for long question but I am a new hedgehog conservator and have been surprised at just how many we have and how much poo - so much poo!!!! 

I look forward to your help and advice. 

Posts

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    Hi Lindancient,

    I haven't heard of hedgehogs hiding food prior to hibernation as it will likely draw in potential predators like badgers, which is probably why they don't do it. The most likely scenario is the one you have listed with it being scouted for hibernation. I would cover with leaves and wood piles to conceal, whilst keeping an eye on how waterproof it appears in the next few weeks.

    Isn't nature wonderful, they ignore a perfectly new hibernation box in favour of a feeding station for one reason unknown. image other than providing material, there isn't a lot more you can do about their location selection, as you may know they have one or possibly two nesting sites for the active months and a separate place for hibernation, so their final decisions may not have been made. If you live in the South East we will expect them to be around for at least another month/into November. Are they all of a decent size? Continue feeding them but as you say, hedgehog food or cat biscuits/wet is best, mealworms and certain seeds like peanuts are harmful to calcium bone levels if consumed on a regular basis. 

    It is best to clean out homes in mid/late Spring when all hogs have risen from their slumber, for now I would leave the sites alone. 

    Hogs will sniff out a food source from far away, so anywhere in your garden will be suitable, they can travel over a mile a night. Unless you frequently have rats in the local area & have seen them in your patch, I wouldn't worry. 

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    p.s. You're doing a brilliant job of feeding & caring for them.. if only we had more people like yourself. 

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391

    Just a warning that rodents cover bowls of food with leaves and other detritus so keep an eye out for those.  You probably have both hogs and rodents using the feeding station and as long as you don't have a plague of rats it's not something to worry about too much.  I have a trail camera and see both mice and hogs visiting.  The mice are very cute. image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Dave HumbyDave Humby HampshirePosts: 1,142

    Bob, as it seems we now have a resident hog who I have purchased a house for as well as started feeding I was also thinking about one of these cameras.

    There's seems a huge variety on amazon that all have very good reviews and many within a similar price bracket. I have been looking at something like this one:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B074FVPTRQ/ref=s9_acsd_top_hd_bw_bUmRd1_c_x_5_w?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-3&pf_rd_r=JJ4506T9CDCXZ9JNXS84&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1e6c1318-87d5-5262-ae57-0924de5dc256&pf_rd_i=454836031

    Are there any brands / models that you folks can recommend or are they much of a muchness (features / price etc would suggest they are).

    Thanks 

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    I think mine is a Swann & it's brilliant, will try to find the model for you Dave

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391

    It's a bit of a minefield to be honest Dave - there's a thread about trailcams - will see if I can find it.
    The main problem seems to be whether a camera will detect the small animals we want to photograph - most cameras seem to be aimed towards deer and the like.  That is a very good price if it will trigger properly on small creatures.

    I went through 2 models before I got one that I was happy with:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Browning-Strike-Force-Trail-Camera/dp/B00TP88GM2/ref=pd_sbs_421_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=DNGWWSS783W6C5G4YBX9

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thank you all so much for you advice and observations. 

    I did wonder about rodents, but I have only seen a few tiny mice droppings near the bowls ( it's easy to see droppings in the plastic feeding station as I put down a layer of newspaper) . Plenty of hog poo no rats droppings as yet. 

    Do you think squirrels would get into the feeding station tunnel? They are the only other culprit maybe they cover with leaves? 

    The hogs have all fed tonight although I didn't see them. I put out wet cat food with dried meal worms and banana chips. Lots of foot prints and one inside the home made cardboard house shifting about! The irony is the new purpose made hog House is under a hedgerow with an overhanging laylandii  nice and dark and secluded. Whereas the feeding station on the gravel is right outside my studio door with traffic back and forth. As you say no accounting for taste. 

    We also have a dog kennel for the cat to do sentry duty in - don't ask!!!? He sits in there waiting for next door's cat to pass by then do chase. When the hedgehogs amble past he takes absolutely no notice and once there was a hog inside taking a snooze so he sat outside. Seems he and the hogs have a mutually agreed personal space.

    Regarding food. It seems this is a minefield I bought hedgehog seed and insect mix from the ark food suppliers. They sai

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    My only thought is that squirrels are burying nuts like they do under my lawn (grrr). Spike's hedgehog food or any meat flavoured cat biscuits/wet food. It doesn't have to be fancy brands but biscuits are best as they clean the back teeth, seeds/nuts/mealworms can rot teeth and cause bone calcium deficiency in frequent servings, this is direct evidence from lots of hedgehog rescues who know their stuff and have seen first hand the poor little guys being brought it. Remember fresh water too, they are often very dehydrated & especially thirsty after feeding

    https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hedgehog%20bottom%20calcium

    Last edited: 27 September 2017 09:36:44

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