A SIX year old from Nettlestone had a happy surprise when a hedgehog paid a visit to her garden.

Six-year-old Hannah Whitehurst became one of the lucky people to have this rare close encounter with one of Britain's more elusive native species last week.

Britain's hedgehog population has seen a decline of 50 per cent since the 1990s, due to the loss and fragmentation of habitat, road kill and the use of slug pellets.

The national hedgehog population is estimated to be around 1 million.

The species go largely unseen by people as they are mostly nocturnal and hibernate through the winter.

Having never seen a hedgehog before, Hannah was excited to share this experience.

With the assistance of her father, Adam Whitehurst, Hannah has built a hedgehog house in her garden, in the hope that her new friend will visit again soon.