Most species need sheltered spaces to protect them from predators and unfavourable weather during breeding, resting and hibernation.
In natural areas, species use hollow trees, dense shrubs and all sorts of cavities in the ground, but these are often not present urban areas, especially newer housing developments.
As we’ve made our houses and gardens ‘tidier’, we’ve reduced the amount of natural areas with this vital cover for nesting - including piles of fallen leaves and logs. There are things you can do within your Naturespace though to provide shelter for some of the UK’s most loved wildlife:
To make you own DIY house, follow these simple steps from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Society. Alternatively, there are lots of ready-made houses available online and in garden centres.
Place the hedgehog house in a quiet, sheltered part of your garden against a hedge, fence or bank.
To prevent cold winds being directed into the hedgehog house, avoid positioning the entrance in a north or north-easterly direction.
TIP: You can find north using the compass app on your phone, or have a look at an online map of your Naturespace – the top of the map will be north.
There are two periods of time that are best for moving or cleaning out a hedgehog house:
Remove bedding and clean the inside of the hedgehog house with boiling water to kill any parasites, then let the house dry out before replacing the lid, or adding any new bedding materials.
TIP: To make sure the house is vacated, you can place a twig or other small object over the entrance - if it’s been moved you know someone has visited the hedgehog house.
Naturehood would like to test whether sparrow nest boxes increase the overall population of these little birds over time - we can only do this with the help of members of the public installing boxes and monitoring the house sparrows in their area.
Installing artificial nest boxes providing extra areas for house sparrows to nest, potentially increases the chances of raising successful young.
House sparrows are highly social and like to nest in groups, so one nest box on its own is unlikely to be used.
Where do I get one?
If attaching to a tree, attach it to the driest side of the trunk
We recommend you clean boxes out between the 1st September and the 31st January, in line with bird protection laws, as birds will have vacated the box during this time.
Remove any old nest materials and wash the box out using hot water.
See further advice on how to maintain nest boxes from the RSPB.