Wildlife_Trust_ hedgehog_hotel
Alex Griffiths, from the Wildlife Trust, showing the pupils how to build a hedgehog hotel. Image Credit: Tristan Rees

Pupils give hedgehogs five-star treatment by building hotels for hibernation

Hedgehog numbers are “declining at the same rate as tigers” – Wildlife Trust

YEAR 2 pupils at Ysgol Gwaelod y Garth have built hedgehog hotels with the Wildlife Trust.

The pupils got stuck in – nailing pieces of wood together and collecting leaves – to make two hedgehog hotels with a corrugated roof nailed on the top.

The hedgehog hotels were then placed on their school grounds, providing a safe haven for the animals.

Rhian Darch, the class teacher, said the project is a hands-on way for the pupils to learn about animal hibernation.

“The children are so excited about this project, so it’s been really worthwhile seeing their smiles today,” she said.

The children are so excited about this project, so it’s been really worthwhile seeing their smiles today.”

– Rhian Darch, Year 2C teacher

The pupils with Meg Howells and Alex Griffiths in front of one of their hedgehog hotels. Image Credit: Tristan Rees

The pupils, who are part of the school’s Welsh-speaking stream, were helped by the Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Engagement Manager, Meg Howells, and Wilder Engagement Officer, Alex Griffiths.

Mr Griffiths said: “A hedgehog hotel is pretty simple, and anyone can do it. It could be anything from a pile of leaves in your back garden, in a wild area, to something a bit more substantial like we’ve made today. It’s just a small space that the hedgehogs can crawl into over the winter and hibernate, so it’s safe for them.”

The children made their hedgehog hotels in the school’s ‘Stem Pod’ – a wooden structure on the grounds which the school uses as an extra classroom, especially for lessons involving outdoor activities. It was opened by the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, last year. 

A hedgehog hotel under construction. Image Credit: Tristan Rees

Ms Darch said she contacted the Wildlife Trust after finding evidence of hedgehogs on the school grounds. She said: “We’ve been studying the woodlands and everything in our local area since we came back to school in September.” 

To find evidence of the hedgehogs, Ms Darch said they “made little plastic tunnels and inside them put some cat food down”. They then put a piece of card inside the tunnels with some ink at the entrance. The hedgehogs left a trail of inky footprints on the card.

Evidence of hedgehogs on the school grounds. Image Credit: Rhian Darch

The event was part of the Wildlife Trust’s My Wild Cardiff project, which Mr Griffiths explained “is a project that the Wildlife Trust are running here in Cardiff to try and encourage people – individuals, community groups, schools – to do a little bit more for nature”. The project is funded by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Finley from Year 2 with his hedgehog hotel which he made at home with his grandfather. Image Credit: Tristan Rees

The “serious decline” of hedgehog numbers

Protecting hedgehogs has become increasingly important.

“Unfortunately, hedgehogs are in serious decline,” said Mr Griffiths.

“Across the UK we’ve seen massive declines – especially in our rural spaces – due to agricultural intensification. Some of their natural habitats are being a bit more chopped up and we’ve got busier roads, so a lot of hedgehogs are unfortunately being killed in road collisions.

“They are actually declining at the same rate as tigers are globally as well. So, it’s a serious decline.

“Anything we can do to help is really important, especially in urban spaces like Cardiff, which are sort of hedgehog havens now, because of the network of gardens and parks and green spaces we have.”

The Wildlife Trust has recently written a blog about how to help hedgehogs this winter.