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Last Updated: Saturday May 02 2009 08:17 GMT

Mystery of American rodent in UK

The prairie dog

A North American prairie dog has been found a long way from home - wandering in a field in the north of England.

It's thought the furry rodent was being kept as an exotic pet before escaping into fields in Lincolnshire, where it was spotted nibbling on sugar beet.

He's just eight inches high and was very underweight when he was found, but is now being cared for by the RSPCA.

Prairie dogs usually live in large groups in the grasslands of America, Canada and Mexico.

But Julie Stoodley, who's looking after the furry critter, said they don't make good pets as they like tunnelling and can get out of almost any cage.

"They need warmth, lots of attention and a specific diet of grasses, hay and root vegetables," she said.

"Priairie dogs are only kept in captivity in this country so this one must have escaped from somewhere or even been abandoned by someone who no longer wanted him."

The search is now on to find the creature's owners, but if that's unsuccessful a new home awaits him with other prairie dogs living in captivity in Oxfordshire.