A stunned couple returned from a weekend break to find their house had been ruined by a squirrel.
The Whites initially feared burglars had broken into their home
Retired engineer Alan White, 67, and his wife Janice, 65, came home to find their lounge ransacked with damage estimated at thousands of pounds.
The pair initially feared burglars had broken into their Cheltenham home.
But a trapped squirrel had tried chewing through the window frames and tore the curtain and settee to shreds in a desperate attempt to escape.
Mr White, who had been visiting the balloon fiesta in Bristol last weekend, said: "We noticed that the fireguard had been knocked on to the carpet and there were coals on the floor.
"Then we noticed that the wooden window frame had been gnawed extensively - most of it was gone.
"There were pot plants and ornaments strewn across the room and we immediately thought someone had broken in. But my wife pointed out that the doors were still locked."
The couple's son, Shaun, 38, found the lifeless body of the squirrel behind the settee.
Mr White said: "Once we realised that we looked more carefully for damage and saw the settee, which was quite a nice one, had been ripped and gnawed.
"Of course, the squirrel had been covered in soot falling down the chimney and everything, even the light on the ceiling, had been covered with soot."
An RSPCA spokesman said: "We've heard of birds getting into houses but never a squirrel getting down a chimney."