Provide wildlife housing

Why provide wildlife housing?

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:

At least a quarter of the hedgehog population was lost between 2001 and 2011.

What can you do to help?

Recent research from the Hedgehog Housing Census has revealed:
  • Hedgehogs prefer homemade houses, but shop-bought houses are still a good alternative.
  • Hedgehogs need time to get used to a new house before they use it, so don’t be disappointed if a hog doesn’t move in right away!
  • People who feed hedgehogs in their gardens and provide natural bedding, such as fallen leaves, are more likely to have a resident hedgehog moving in.
  • Pets or badgers don’t appear to put off hedgehogs from moving in.

Hedgehog Housing

Installing your hedgehog house

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.

Maintaining your hedgehog house

There are two periods of time that are best for moving or cleaning out a hedgehog house:

  • In March and April, when the hedgehogs have finished hibernating and will have left the house. It’s important that you clean the hedgehog house around this time and before the breeding season, as disturbing a mother can cause her to abandon her hoglets
  • In October, when the young hoglets have been weaned and before hedgehogs settle for winter hibernation

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.

Make sure you record your wildlife houses within your Naturespace profile, so that we know what you have done.

House sparrow box

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.

There has been a gradual decline in house sparrows across the UK in the last 100 years.

Install two (or more) artificial nest boxes


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?

  • Make your own do-it-yourself house sparrow nest box by following our DIY Guide

  • Purchase a pre-made house sparrow nest box online. (Please make sure they are made from FSC certified materials and can be cleaned easily if required)
Where to put it?

Bird Box Location

  • Attach the box to an open external wall or tree in the garden
  • Make sure it’s clear of obstructions which will stop birds being able to enter or exit easily when in flight
  • Include a round entrance hole 32 mm in diameter, at least 150 mm from the floor of the box
  • Install it at least 3 m from the ground
  • If possible, ensure it does not face between south and west, to maximise nesting uptake. This avoids prevailing wind direction and prolonged hours of direct sunlight
  • If attaching to a tree, attach it to the driest side of the trunk

Keep your sparrow box habitable


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.

©Earthwatch 2018  

Get Involved

Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
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