Hedgehog House with IP Camera, the build…

17 May

At my last house we had a hedgehog that would come into the garden every evening. I first discovered him when he scared the crap out of me when I came out of the garage one night, having just finished playing Gran Turismo. I then started leaving food for him, and after a while I setup some IP cameras with infra red night vision and motion detect so we could see what he got up to.

He was pretty cute, but we moved house earlier this year and so had to say goodbye, it was a sad day.

Anyway, now we have a new house so it was time to get a new hedgehog – hopefully. I decided that I wanted to get a hedgehog house for the garden. There are some ones available ready built, but none of them are really designed to mount a camera inside them. I decided that it would be best to build my own, that way I could get it exactly the way I wanted.

I checked the garden and found a nice little secluded spot to put the hog house, this also gave me certain size restrictions. I made some rough drawings whilst sat in front of the telly one night and decided on a few requirements:

  • Chicane type entrance – To keep cats etc out.
  • Roof mounted camera – To keep it away from hedgy.
  • Waterproof – I’m putting mains power to it so it makes sense.
  • Size – It needs to fit between 2 trees and also be big enough for the hedgehog and maybe hedgehog babies down the line. A lot of this was guesstimated.
  • Removable roof – The roof needs to be able to be removed to gain access to all compartments.
  • Finish – I read that creosote type finishes can harm hedgehogs so I need to be careful of this and have been told that “cuprinol ducksback” should be safe.

I’m going to run armoured cable out the back of the house down to the end of the garden where I’ll put a junction box and then can run the hedgehog house and then later down the line I’ll probably add some little garden lights too.

Anyway, back to the build. I was originally going to use a spare Sony IP camera that I had and mount some Infra-red LED’s in the roof of the house. But, it soon became apparent that only certain cameras pick up infra red light, and the Sony one didn’t.

I used an old cardboard box to test how many LED’s I would need with a Foscam IP camera that I had, the Foscam camera already had Infra-red LED’s around the lens which provided exactly the correct amount of light, so this turned out to be a bit of a waste of time.

(No elephants were harmed in the making of this post!)

After deciding on the ‘wedge’ shape design I went to Homebase and picked up the wood and other bits that I needed. I had planned on using plywood, but it was a lot more expensive than I remembered, so I decided to re-use some floorboards that I already had with a softwood frame and chipboard for the internals that would not be exposed. I also used screws so that any parts could be easily replaced later on if required. It’s worth noting that the Black and Decker Workmate, cordless drill and jigsaw saved a tonne of time and injuries and are well worth investing in.

I didn’t really make too many measurements, but guesstimated that a 15cm x 15cm entrance should be big enough for the average hog to fit through, and the chicane type corridor was also 15 cm’s in width. Other than that it was just a case of “yeah, that looks about right”. It’s probably a bit over-engineered, but I don’t do things by half.

By the end of Sunday this was what it looked like:

So that was me pretty much done for that weekend. I spent a few hours after work fitting the rest of the walls and wiring in the electrics. The camera did have wireless functionality, but I found this to be unreliable in the past, so instead I fitted a double socket and ran a netplug from the one. I mounted the camera upside down from the top shelf and then made a small hole to run the cables through to the top section.

Once the walls were all finished, I made a lid type roof from chipboard and some softwood and then covered it with felt. I then used Cuprinol Ducksback (as it’s safe for animals) to protect the wood on the outside and also the floor inside and then cleared some of the shrubs at the bottom of the garden to make space for it.

I put a bowl of fresh water in there along with some spike’s hedgehog food, in bowls from the pound shop to attract the hedgehogs.

I setup the camera in ZoneMinder and set the hedgehog house to be set to motion detect so that it will record any movement in the house. I can then view this from any web browser or via any of the media centre extenders in the house.

Unfortunately we had no visitors after the first night, so I might put some more food around the entrance to the hedgehog house and I’ll also pick up some hay from a pet shop to put on the floor in there. Fingers crossed we will have a visitor or two soon…

For my next project I might build a feeding station with a camera mounted in the roof and perhaps a bird box with a camera in it too, we shall see.

Update…

Well, I had a visitor, although not the type I expected. I think I need to modify the entrance a little!

So, to prevent further felines from entering the house, I added an extra shelf, the patented “Hog House Anti Cat Shelf”, in the entrance corridor. Hopefully this will do the job. I put some newspaper and more food in there so will see what happens!

Update…

Ok, so today, 2 different cats popped in, so it clearly didn’t work. I’ve now also added an extra arch in there, hopefully this will stop the cats but still let the hedgehogs pass. The new size now is about 10cm x 10cm. Again, we’ll see what happens!

More videos and updates can be found here.