The wildlife artist based in Thixendale, North Yorkshire Robert Fuller, received more than he expected once he had set up a jungle gym with a trampoline in his yard. Fuller had no idea that it would bring joy to more than just the little family. He shares his property with a huge variety of wild animals including hedgehogs, owls, foxes, badgers and a family of stoats.
After putting up the trampoline, Fuller noticed that one particular group of wild animals - the little stoats, started enjoying it more than he thought. The little stoats usually avoided spending time out in the open, however for the playful animals, the trampoline was too fun to pass up. “I first noticed a stoat on the trampoline around 2015. It had been snowing and I followed the stoat’s pawprints all the way up to the trampoline and all over it, too!"
Wanting to follow the lives of these interesting animals, Fuller decided to set up a network of over 80 remote cameras. Eventually he was able to catch a glimpse of the playful stoats enjoying his trampoline.
“When I developed my camera set-up a few years later, the trampoline was a prime contender for a camera and I soon had exciting clips of stoats bouncing and having fun. The stoat kits seem to meet at the trampoline to play and have fun! They seem to like the texture of the material and use it for particularly bouncy playfights and stretching.”
However, the trampoline doesn't only bring out the little baby stoat’s childlike joy but is also a very useful contraption for the babies to practice skills they need as adults. “The whole children’s climbing frame has been great for the kits to practice their hunting skills and even play a stoat version of hide-and-seek."
Since then the cute stoats has taken over the entire jungle gym, however they are kind enough to share the space with their other wild life friends. Fuller doesn't mind sharing either. What matters the most for him is that he has created a very special habitat for wild neighbours to feel safe and enjoy.