Is there a meerkat on the loose in Newmarket?

A meerkat

Newmarket residents believe they may have spotted a meerkat on Exning Road. - Credit: Suffolk Rural

Newmarket residents have reported seeing an escapee meerkat on the loose in the Exning Road area.

On Monday, May 23, Allan Roberts was cycling home when he saw an animal crossing the path 20 metres in front of him.

From a distance, he thought it was likely to be a squirrel and worried it may be in danger due to the traffic.

However, when he approached the animal and saw it cross over to Corsican Pine Close, he ruled out the usual rodent suspects.

Exning Road by Corsican Pine Close

Allan Roberts thinks he saw the meerkat on Exning Road crossing over to Corsican Pine Close. - Credit: Google Maps

Allan described the animal as having a "typical pointy face, stripy back and a little dark fluffy bit on the end of its tail."

He added: "It stopped and stood up on its back legs in usual meerkat style.

Then, it looked round for a second or two before scooting off into the close."

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In a message posted to a Facebook community group, Allan said: "Oleg or Sergei are out! Someone must be missing their meerkat!"

Sofia Sutherland has made similar claims of a sighting outside the Cala Development in Exning Road.

The Cava development in Newmarket

Sofia Sutherland believes she saw a meerkat outside the Cala development on Exning Road. - Credit: Google Maps

She said: "I dismissed it as I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

"Now I've heard other people saying the very same thing, I'm going to keep my eyes open at all times when out and about in our area."

Kate Knight is the head of animal studies at Suffolk Rural College, which has meerkats in its animal unit.

She offered her recommendations for anyone who happens across a stray meerkat: "The best thing to do is corner it somewhere dark, quiet and not scary.

"Don't try to handle them as they have sharp teeth and a strong bite.

"Then call for help, ideally from someone like the RSPCA."

Kate also emphasised that meerkats should not be taken on as pets as they are non-domesticated mammals.

She pointed to the fact that they live in large groups in the wild and to house them in limited space on their own goes against their natural behaviours.