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No. 36 Make a home for wildlife

Bug hotel in the Community Kitchen Garden at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland
Bug hotel in the Community Kitchen Garden at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

All sorts of animals, bugs and birds need homes and most choose to build very different ones. If you're going to build a home for one, you'll have to think about what they need and want from it, and why. It’s no. 36 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’.

What are you building a house for?

You can build a home for any wildlife you think of, but it's probably best to go with smaller ones for this challenge.

Hedgehogs, for example, don't need a lot of space, but you could choose to build somewhere for even smaller things like woodlice, spiders or worms - you'd need even fewer materials and less garden space.

How will the animals use the home you've built?

Do you think that they will want to live in the home you make? Or maybe just visit it and explore? Or could they use it for hibernating? Ladybirds hibernate, so they might make a good guest for your wildlife hotel.

What else do you need to think about?

  • Does the home need to be dry or wet?
  • What sort of home does the animal currently live in?
  • Can you learn anything from that about what it likes and dislikes?
  • Where are you going to build it - can it be on the ground, underneath it, or in the trees?
  • What will you make it from?

It's probably best to go for something very similar to the animal's current home, so natural materials like moss, sticks and stones will be better than plastic and metal. You could also try cardboard if you wanted to make something really detailed.

Don't give up

Remember, in the wild, animals choose where they live. So even if you go to a lot of trouble creating what you think is a dream home, they might still decide to find a pad of their own design. If you find your wildlife home empty at first, don't despair - take a look back in a week or so and you may find an unexpected guest has moved in.

What will your wildlife home look like?

Bug hotel at Lydford Gorge, Devon
Bug hotel at Lydford Gorge, Devon | © National Trust Images/Mel Peters

Bug hotel

You could make a grand hotel for wildlife from stacked wood pallets, bricks, pipes, cardboard and natural materials.

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