If you could have anyone over to your house for a dinner party, who would it be?
Well, for one woman from Stockport in Greater Manchester, it’s a family of badgers who sit down to enjoy afternoon tea and a range of other treats from the comfort of her own back garden.
In fact, Christine Ian became so used to seeing the furry family that she decided to turn the space into a sanctuary for the nocturnal animals.
The 53-year-old has lived in the house she shares with her husband for 14 years, but she discovered a pat – which turned out to be a badgers’ run – as soon as they moved in.
Christine started leaving bits of food out for the creatures, and once the animals became more comfortable to her being around, they came into her garden more and more.
In fact, she’s bonded with them so much in the last 14 years she can even hand feed them at her patio door. Now that’s friendship goals right there.
The family of four badgers have affectionately been named Mr and Mrs Lumpy, while their three-year-old cub is called Humbug. And, more recently, the furry family’s nine-month-old baby called Bella.
Mr Lumpy was the first of the four to visit Christine and her snack shop. Initially, she wasn’t sure if it was the same badger coming back each time, but when she started using a camera phone a few years ago, she was able to use pictures to identify them and see it was the same family had taken a liking to her food offerings.
Speaking about her new badger friends, Christine said:
People often wonder how I tell them apart but I see them every day so I know them really well.
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.
But the creatures can’t eat just anything, so Christine decided to take advice from the High Peak Badger Group on what she should be feeding them. She says their diet mostly consists of nuts, grapes, raisins and raw eggs.
Every now and then, they’ll get an extra little treat in the form of badger afternoon tea, which comprises of biscuits, scones and pâté on toast.
Christine hopes to start a ‘Mr Lumpy and Friends’ children’s book series so young people can learn about the importance of wildlife conservation.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.