Chorleywood residents claim they are being besieged by badgers as the changes in behaviour of the nocturnal foragers leaves wildlife experts stumped.

Gardens in Chalfont Lane, Stag Lane, St Peter’s Way, Little Hill and The Swillett have all reportedly been dug up by badgers in recent weeks.

One of the area’s more high-profile victims was Rickmansworth Cricket Club which has had to delay the start of its season after a large section of the pitch was dug up in a few days, causing thousands of pounds of damage.

The unusually cold weather prevented the club’s groundsman putting down a poison to kill off the insects that attract the badgers but changes to the animals behaviour have been noticed across the area.

Chalfont Lane resident Bob Arthy said: "It has never happened to the garden before in my 30 years here and now it’s all over Chorleywood.

"There are badger setts in the woods but I have never seen their work to this extent before."

But Matt Hollingsworth of St Peter’s Way said he did not think their activity was significantly worse than in other years.

He said: "I have seen them no more this year than on any other year.

"I presume they are having to search harder for food than usual because it is so cold.

"It is very disappointing when you spend 10 years getting your garden nice then this happens, it is depressing to wake up every morning and find more damage."

But another resident said: "It’s the countryside, these things happen."

The Middlesex and Hertfordshire Badger Group has also been tracking an increase in activity from the area’s badger population.

Geoff Russell, south Herts representative, said: "There have been a few more incidents like this recently but we don’t know of any real reason why this is happening.

"We have been to some gardens to help people with advice of what to do about it.

"The cold doesn’t usually affect them in this way, if the ground is hard and frozen then they can’t dig into it.

"Obviously people have lawns full of Leatherjackets that the badgers like to eat."

One possible explanation for the arrival of the badgers could be down to residents feeding them.

Mr Russell said: "A lot of the problem is people encourage them into gardens by putting out food, they may be very happy to have the badgers in their garden but then obviously they will go into the neighbours gardens who won’t be so happy about it.

"We advise people not to feed them at all."