Homes for hedgehogs, dormice, bats and more
Once your garden’s stocked with nestboxes for birds, you might think about ways to help other wildlife.
You can buy ready-made hedgehog boxes – but here are a few features to include if you want to build your own:
A long entrance tunnel to the nesting chamber will deter predators: but ensure it’s big enough to admit the largest hedgehogs.
Build the box and tunnel from outdoor quality 15mm plywood or offcuts of sawn timber. Use water-based preservatives on both sides of all panels.
Fit a removable roof to the nesting chamber to make cleaning easier.
Fit wooden battens to raise the nesting chamber off the ground and drill holes to improve drainage.
Situate the box in a quiet corner of the garden; cover it with leaves and other garden debris to confuse would-be predators.
To help dormice you can buy special boxes known as dreys where they can rest during their active months or hibernate, living for up to six months off fat reserves built up during the summer.
If you fancy making your own boxes for dormice, use our template for a bird nestbox with a small entrance hole but make the depth at least 230mm, while the diameter of the entrance hole needs to be 26mm. Fix a batten above the entrance hole and another at the base of that panel.
Then position the box with the hole facing the tree to which it’s attached. This ensures there’s space for the dormouse to climb between the tree trunk and the box. Dormice are legally protected, so you’ll need a license to examine nestboxes.
Help bats find a suitable roost by putting up a simple box, particularly if you’ve observed them hunting for insects near your garden. If you have the space for several boxes, get them facing in different directions. Place them as high as possible in sheltered sunny places.
Bat boxes are available commercially. Or if you want to make your own, ensure they’re sufficiently well insulated to keep temperature and humidity changes to a minimum. Bats need textured wood to cling to, so avoid using plywood or MDF for your boxes, and don’t use preservatives as they are very sensitive to chemicals. For more information on bats and the law call the Bat Helpline (0345 1300 228).