Cleaning hedgehog nest box, hedgehog hosue
Helping hedgehogs, wildlife gardening

Cleaning hedgehog boxes

How to clean your hedgehog house

Mid Spring is a great time to clean out hedgehog hibernation boxes ready for the Summer nesting period. You can also check and make any repairs at the same time.

The best time to clean your hedgehog boxes is normally in April. This is usually after hibernation but before the nesting period begins. Here is my step by step guide to what to do.

I recommend a sturdy wooden hedgehog box like this one. It provides the best protection against the elements and predators. Many commercially available hedgehog boxes are produced by people who have never seen a hedgehog because the dimensions are way too small and they are too flimsy to last long.

Check your hedgehog box is empty

You can place a little hay or a twig in the entrance to the house. If it is moved, you know something is using it. To know for sure, use a night camera. If you aren’t sure, be very gentle when moving the box and open the lid to take a little peak. Make sure you wear thick gloves whilst cleaning the hedgehog box.

Hay placed in the hedgehog house entrance – this will be moved if something is using it

Remove the old contents

Remove the current contents of the box.

Remove the old contents and sweep out the hedgehog house

Sweep out the hedgehog box

Clean out any loose material from the inside.

Clean the hedgehog house

I recommend boiling water. This will kill any parasites and bacteria. Many cleaning products (including Dettol) are toxic to hedgehogs (and other creatures). If you need to use anything else, I would only recommend a veterinary approved or pet-safe rabbit hutch cleaner which is non-toxic.

Cleaning the hedgehog box with hot water. Always wear gloves whilst cleaning out the hedgehog box.

Dry the hedgehog box thoroughly

If it is a sunny day you can leave it outside or place it somewhere warm to dry out.

Replace the contents of the box

I recommend using fresh, dry hay. Hedgehogs will add leaves and other materials to the nest. You can also leave hay around the garden underneath something to keep it dry and then hedgehogs can choose material to add to their nest at any time. Also leave long areas of grass that the hedgehog can tear off for its nest. I don’t use newspaper in the hedgehog box because this can go soggy.

I use hay inside the hedgehog box
Make sure there is plenty of hay inside – the hedgehog can move it around later

Place your hedgehog house back

Place your hedgehog box back under cover. If your box has not been used in its previous location, it may be worth considering relocating it. How the box is sited is crucial for the chances of it being used by a hedgehog. Read my blog for more information and a video showing how to locate your hedgehog house.

The hedgehog box in a quiet, sheltered area of the garden with the entrance facing towards the fence to provide extra protection from rain and predators

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. You can read more about me and how to support my work. Like all wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self-funded. If you have found this information useful, please consider making a donation or checking out my silver nature jewellery that raises vital funds for my work – you can visit my shop here.

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13 thoughts on “Cleaning hedgehog boxes”

  1. It’s lovely to read that so many people are helping our little hedgehog’s, I’ve lost count on how many hedgehog’s come and feed on my patio but there’s at least 8 of all different sizes. I also have 2 cats that try and play with them but unfortunately for the cats the hedgehog’s just roll up or walk away. The only way for the cats to get out at night is for me to leave the patio door open and this is an open opportunity for the hedgehog’s too enter my house, i really don’t mind this and there’s been so many times I’ve gone to bed and listened to the hedgehog’s snuffling around and even playing in the cats toy box. So many people have said to me that this is not a good idea because they are a wild animal but too see a little hedgehog fast asleep in a box or cats bed how can anyone say no. Please keep feeding and looking out for our little friends so there around for years to come.

  2. I have been unable to clean out my hedgehog house as there is always a hedgehog there. I have replaced the straw in the tunnel and on top of the hedgehog but not underneath. What can I do?

  3. I bought a hedgehog house last year having been feeding a couple of hedgehogs every night through the summer. When I checked to see if I had had a hedgehog hibernate in there after the first few days of the hot weather the other week, I was v pleased to see a hog asleep. However it was fairly smelly in the house so I now wonder if I need to change the bedding? Presuming that it is still using the house (again I am already feeding 2 hogs every night), should I do it just before dusk so as to minimise disturbance? I was wondering about putting it a box just whilst I change the hay/straw bedding (obviously using gloves to minimise my smell on the new bedding, and then putting it back in the house. Any advice would be much appreciated. By the way I use a semi moist bought hedgehog food which they love – and which my 2 cats do not bother to touch when I put it out!
    Many thanks

  4. Last night I saw 1 of the 3 hedgehogs in my garden having a drink of water .
    I have 3 hibernation boxes so hoping to see the others have survived in due course , worried as 1 was quite small and was feeding on dog food during the day before it hibernated.
    I bought a full case of hedgehog food (meat ) but found mine would not eat it.
    Wondered if there is a sanctuary in my area (Preston Lancs) that I could give to

  5. I’ve just cleaned out the box and I’m delighted to say that someone has been wintering in it. There were lots of leaves and twigs mixed in with the hay into a densely packed mass. This is very gratifying. A hedgehog has been spotted by my neighbour but I haven’t seen any myself this spring. There was a big fat hedgehog and a normal sized hedgehog last summer.

  6. Someone appears to be living in my x3 wildlife dens – but don’t know who – so need a spycam. Just read your earlier (very informative) blog on trail cameras. Further investigation/research required.

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