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Raccoon on the run; Escapee pet found in Ulster bin by shocked caretaker.

Byline: VICTORIA MCMAHON

CURLED up in a tight ball meet this rare Procyon lotor - that's a raccoon to you and me.

The cute mammal, whose native home is North America, was found in Lurgan, Co Armagh, by a shocked caretaker who thought it was a cat.

But the distinctive animal was in raccoon rubbish heaven as it fed on leftovers in a bin on the Lough Road.

Animals experts believe the little fella is a local escapee pet.

Belfast Zoo manager Mark Challice said: "These are North American, Canadian species. This looks to be an escaped pet.

"They are a remarkable hardy species and can survive the deepest of Canadian winters, so this weather will be a breeze for it.

"They are often regarded as pests in Canada and can cause havoc setting up home in roof spaces. They are very rare to find here.

"If they're hungry they'll eat anything - they'll eat whatever's going. They love bins and are clever enough and will keep out of harm's way by sleeping up trees.

"They'll put up with anything, they are one of life's great survivors. As a rule they're generally peaceful little things and they try and stay out of harm's way."

The animal's Latin name is Procyon lotor, and they can live to more than 20 years in captivity.

But this fella is a long way from his native North America home.

The caretaker who found it said: "I opened a big metal bin to put some rubbish in and I saw it.

"At first I thought it was a cat. I wouldn't have the facilities to look after it myself so hopefully the owner can be located."

victoria.mcmahon@mgn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

DINING OUT Racoon enjoys food leftovers

I'VE BIN SPOTTED North American raccoon in Lurgan, Co Armagh
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 14, 2014
Words:302
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