Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Raccoon rescued from town garden

The raccoon in the tree. Picture taken by David Webber
The RSPCA officer tried to use an apple to coax the animal down

A raccoon has been rescued from a tree in a garden in Dorset after a surprised couple found it while birdwatching.

David and Ena Webber, who live in Walcott Avenue, Christchurch, spotted the animal on Saturday morning.

They called police, who said they had no reports of a missing raccoon, and then the RSPCA, which collected it.

The charity said it did not know where it had come from but said the animal was in good condition and was probably someone's escaped pet.

Police told us they had no records of a missing raccoon
Ena Webber

Mrs Webber, 71, told BBC News: "We were trying to do the RSPB birdwatch this morning when we spotted it at about 10 o'clock. We thought it was a cat.

"Well, cats and birds don't go together so I fired the water gun at it and its little face came out and it just looked at me and said, in no uncertain terms: 'Stop I want to go back to sleep'.

"It wasn't impressed at all.

"It had such a cute little face. It stayed in the same tree, on the same branch and didn't move. It was fast asleep.

"It's a total mystery, nobody knows where it's come from. Police told us they had no records of a missing raccoon."

Katie Geary, RSPCA spokeswoman, said it was unusual, but not unheard of, to find an escaped raccoon.

She said: "The officer tried to use an apple to coax the animal down but it failed so he used a grasper around its middle to gently get it down from the tree.

"Raccoons are semi-nocturnal animals so it was very sleepy.

"It was in a very good condition. It was about 10kg (22lb), the size of quite a large cat.

"We think it's owned by someone in the local area so if someone has lost a raccoon they should contact us."

The raccoon is being cared for at a local RSPCA rescue centre.

Anyone who has lost a raccoon can contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234999 and leave a message.

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