Badger family come to dinner every night
Christine Ian appears to have a touch of the Dr. Doolittle about her. Or perhaps it’s more like Snow White? Each evening, a family of badgers (as well as the occasional fox and squirrel) come to her garden – so regularly that she’s made the space into a sanctuary for the nocturnal animals. The 53-year-old from Stockport has lived in the house with her husband for 14 years, and found a path (which she later found out was a badger’s run) when she first moved in. She began leaving out the odd bit of food for them, and once they became more comfortable and used to her being around, they frequented Christine’s garden more regularly.
Christine is now even able to hand-feed them right from the patio door, as they’re so bonded to her.
The four badgers have been affectionately named by Christine as Mr and Mrs Lumpy, alongside their cub, three-year-old Humbug and more recently Humbug’s cub, nine-month-old baby, Bella. Mr. Lumpy was the first of the brood to visit. Initially Christine wasn’t sure if it was the same badgers coming back each time, but when she started using a camera phone a few years back, she was able to identify them and see that it was the friendly family that had taken a liking to her snacks. ‘People often wonder how I tell them apart but I see them every day so I know them really well,’ says Christine.
‘Aside from the woodland we live near a really busy road so feeding them is a way of keeping them safe. ‘They don’t need to venture far for food because the woods provide everything for them that they would naturally need. The badger buffet I give to them is just an added bonus. They have the best of both worlds here so they choose to keep coming back and I love having them.’ They can’t just eat anything, either. After taking advice from the High Peak Badger Group on what to feed the badgers, Christine prepares their usual menu including nuts, grapes, raisins and raw eggs.
Occasionally, they’ll get an extra treat in the form of a badger afternoon tea, comprising of biscuits, scones, and pate on toast. Alongside the badgers, Christine is also visited by foxes called Foxy Loxy and her cub Roxy, as well as squirrels, rats, wood mice, bats, owls and even a polecat. The animals enter through an archway made from a bright pink frame which Christine calls ‘Narnia’ because she doesn’t know what creature might come through next. Her animal-attracting powers are so popular that she now hosts regular meet-ups with other nature enthusiasts. They come to her house, and can see all the animals having their dinner right up close.
She said: ‘It is proving to be extremely popular. People don’t often see badgers in the wild and they tend to get quite emotional. I have had a few people crying before. ‘I run around one a month but the demand is definitely there for more. The money raised from these go to wildlife charities too.’ On top of that, Christine has started her own merchandise shop, with money raised going to badger conservation. There, you can purchase everything from art prints to woolly hats. She hopes to start a Mr Lumpy and Friends children’s book series too, so young people can learn more about wildlife and the importance of conservation.