July 28 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, April 24, 2014
An unsuspecting sheep got fleeced by a rogue tenant when a squirrel took up residence in his woolly coat.
Max the Hebridean sheep played unsuspecting host to the baby squirrel who was looking for somewhere warm to nest.
The imposter was found by Max’s owner Liz Dilworth, who keeps Max and Blackberry, the Balwen sheep, as pets at her home in Pound Lane, Capel St Mary.
Mrs Dilworth, a teacher at nearby Stratford St Mary Primary School who celebrates her 64th birthday today, said: “I was looking over the fence and saw this thing moving across Max’s neck.
“I thought it was a rat at first, but I put gloves on and picked it up and could not believe it.
“A Hebridean’s coat is really thick and she could only have got in through his neck when he bent down to graze and the wool came apart.
“I don’t think Max was aware it was there, but if he was he didn’t seem to mind.
“It was very cute and I’m told she is about eight weeks old, too young to fend for herself.
“It must have been the warmest place she could find.
“Who knows, maybe there are sheep all over the place with baby squirrels nesting in their wool.”
Young squirrels can fall out of their nest or be thrown out if there are too many in the litter.
The squirrel was taken to the Wildlives sanctuary in Thorrington, Essex, where she now lives with 11 other baby squirrels who have all been found recently.
Sanctuary founder Rosie Catford said: “I have never heard of this before. My initial thought was disbelief and I told Mrs Dilworth she had the first prize for the most unusual place to find a squirrel.
“It has been a bad year for squirrels for some reason, and they’ve all had different circumstances.
“One lady had one climb into her welly boot and others have climbed into fleece coats, but never in a sheep’s fleece before.”
The squirrels will be hand-reared until they are strong enough to be released back into the wild close to where they were found.
Wildlives has a special licence from Natural England to care for and release squirrels.