Animal Journeys

rynner2

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Cat survives 100-mile trip under train

A cat that clung to the underside of a goods train for a 100-mile journey across the Pennines was found, dirty and shaken, at the depot in Carlisle. The cat is believed to have got on to a tiny ledge under the train at Billingham, Teesside. Animals’ Refuge said: “We would like to find her owners, but if you lose a cat in Teesside you don’t think to ring up a refuge in Cumbria.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 183305.ece
 

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Snowy owl 'first seen since 1948'

A snowy owl has been spotted in Cornwall for the first time since 1948, according to local bird watchers.

The bird, which is native to the Arctic Circle, was first seen in the Isles of Scilly, before it arrived in Zennor, near St Ives.

John Chapple, a local bird watcher, said the owl appeared 10 days ago and bird enthusiasts have been travelling to see it from around the UK.

He said the bird was a young one and seemed "happy and content" to be there.

Mr Chapple said: "I was exhilarated and excited when I heard about the owl and just had to go and see it.

"It's a fantastic record for Cornwall, the chance of a snowy owl landing here is once in a blue moon.

"It seems happy and content there.

"It must be finding plenty of food."

Juvenile snowy owls gradually lose their stripes as they grow, which is why the adults are almost completely white, Mr Chapple added.

The owls grow to almost 2ft (0.6m) in height and have a wingspan of more than 5ft (1.5m), making them one of the largest owl species in Europe.

The birds predominantly live in Canada, Russia, Greenland and Iceland, with a smaller presence in Scandinavia.

Lemmings are their usual source of food.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/7806553.stm

We've had a long spell of easterlies recently. But somehow the bird must have realised there was only ocean west of Scilly, and made its way back to the mainland! Maybe it's a reincarnation of the Mermaid of Zennor... ;)
 

rynner2

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And now for something... rather similar! 8)

Snow bunting visits back garden

A birdwatcher from Cornwall travelled to Norway to catch a glimpse of a rare species of bird, only to return home to find it in her garden. Oh the irony!

Janet Davies, from Helston, was hoping to see a snow-bunting during her holiday, but returned to the UK disappointed.

So she was amazed to see one suddenly appear outside her home on Sunday.

Since then the bird, which she says was "very conspicuous", has returned on a number of occasions .

Ms Davies said: "I could see it was something very different because it was so white.

"As it fluttered around it was very conspicuous. I drew some pictures of it and then I went and got the bird book and had a look."

Snow-buntings are usually found in the frozen landscapes of Scandinavia or Canada.

Earlier this week a snowy owl, also usually found in colder climes, was spotted in Zennor, near St Ives, Cornwall.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/7808915.stm

It seems odd that Cornwall is getting this mini-invasion of arctic species. Although it has been cold here, we haven't had the hard frosts that the rest of Britain has recently suffered, so you might have thought it was too warm for them here. (No frost at all chez rynner.)
 

rynner2

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..and more on that owl:

Winged wonder: Young snowy owl lands in Cornwall
Birdwatchers were astonished when a rare species of owl, used to the frozen wastes of the Arctic, landed in Cornwall
By Michael McCarthy
Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A snowy owl, which has been delighting birdwatchers around the village of Zennor, near St Ives in Cornwall, is about 1,000 miles off course. As inhabitants of the tundra above the Arctic circle for most of the year, snowy owls do wander south in winter, but they usually get no nearer St Ives than the far north of Scotland.

This one – a young female – had help. It landed on a transatlantic cargo ship off the Cornish coast, having been clearly blown very far off course, and then flew ashore for a rest to St Mary's, one of the Isles of Scilly, before making the crossing to the Cornish mainland. It has been attracting observers in the Zennor area for the past fortnight – and astonishing them.

"I have seen snowy owls in zoos but nothing prepared me for what truly wonderful birds they are when you see them in the wild," said Jon Evans, a birdwatcher who drove through the night from Suffolk to catch sight of it.

"I took a lot of shots of it sitting there with its big yellow eyes. But only when it took off with those broad, white wings did I appreciate that the snowy owl is a truly majestic bird."

.....

In recent times, snowy owls were briefly British birds: between 1967 and 1975 a pair bred on Fetlar, the Shetland island which is the nearest part of Britain to Norway. They managed to raise at least 16 young but despite careful protection and monitoring, in 1976 the male bird disappeared, and although females continued to visit Fetlar, no more males appeared as suitable mates, and the last birds were seen in 1993.

The rarity, therefore, is one of the great attractions of a snowy owl to anyone who loves the natural world in Britain. So too is the beauty – if you think this female is beautiful, you should see the males, which lack the black barring and are virtually all-white, and quite breathtaking.

But perhaps at the heart of the attraction is what we might call the owl experience itself, for owls hold more fascination for people than perhaps any other family of birds. JK Rowling knew exactly what she was doing when she made them the omnipresent messengers of the magical world of Harry Potter. For thousands of years, humans have attributed a wide range of characteristics to owls, from wisdom to malevolence to mystery. No doubt because they were creatures of the night, and once symbolised the dark forces that the night might contain, they were often thought of as creatures of ill-omen. But in recent times as we have lost our fear of the dark, their air of mystery has come to seem more attractive, as JK Rowling understood. The snowy owl, for its combination of size and rarity and beauty, probably represents the supreme owl experience but any owl encounter can be memorable, especially with our own nearest equivalent, the barn owl, which is all-white underneath. Anyone who has stood at the edge of a field in the dusk of a warm May evening and watched a barn owl hunt, gliding and fluttering soundlessly over the grass like a huge white moth, has witnessed something quite unforgettable.

We have four more regularly breeding owl species in Britain and all are fascinating, although not all are easy to observe. The hardest to see is the long-eared owl, which is strictly nocturnal and spends most of the day roosting in deep cover such as conifer plantations. The commonest is the tawny owl, which is also nocturnal but best known for its two call-notes, which have entered into folklore: the screech of the female ("tu-whit"), and the musical hoot of the male ("tu-whoo"). Like magpies and foxes, tawny owls now can be found in cities: a pair often breeds in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

The other two species can often be seen during the day (if you go to the trouble of searching them out): the short-eared owl, which majestically quarters the ground low over moorlands and marshes, and the little owl, not much bigger than a blackbird, which can be seen perching on a tree branch or a gatepost. It is the little owl which is the original wise old owl, being long celebrated in Greece as the symbol of Pallas Athene, the goddess of wisdom; it was introduced to Britain in the 19th century.

Britain now may – or may not – have a sixth regularly breeding owl species. Several pair of eagle owls, enormous birds from eastern Europe with 6ft wingspans, have bred here in the past 15 years but as they are all believed to have escaped from captivity, they are not considered British birds – although the situation may change if a regular breeding population establishes itself.


Splendid though the eagle owl is, it is the snowy owl which is the most magnificent of the family. A century ago T S Eliot, the modernist poet now remembered principally for the obscurity of The Waste Land, captured something of it in a wonderful song he wrote as a young man in New England:

The moonflower opens to the moth,
The mist crawls in from sea,
A great white bird, a snowy owl,
Slips from the alder tree ...

The great white bird is alive and well, and currently living in Cornwall.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environmen ... 28144.html
 

nyarlathotepsub2

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A few years ago a friend and I were on a road trip in southwest Michigan and nearly collided with a Snowy Owl who was dining on the carcass of an opossum who had been killed on the road.

It was a beautiful and impressive bird!
 

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Cat helps deliver town's letters

A cat is making a name for himself by helping the postman on his rounds in a Somerset town.

Charlie has been travelling with Nick Lock on his rounds in Woolavington for several weeks since he jumped into his postbag to escape the rain.

Mr Lock, 42, told BBC News: "He was soaking wet through and I put my bag down - next thing he was in it.

"Most days now he's about. I think it's because he likes people. I don't think he likes being by himself."

The four-year-old cat belongs to Lara Lucas, 18, who lives on the Meadway Road section of Nick's route.

She said: ''Charlie follows Nick around and does his round with him every day. I think it's adorable.

''I couldn't believe it when he started going around in Nick's bag. When I heard about it I fell into fits of laughter."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/7857873.stm
 

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Cat home after two year 'holiday'

A cat has been reunited with its owners in East Dunbartonshire after being found on a Scottish island - two years after it vanished.

Karen Ratcliffe bought Bengal tabby, Ozzie, and his sister, Ellie, for her children.

They put up laminated posters after Ozzie went missing from the family home in Bearsden in 2007.

He was found in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae. Cats Protection staff later identified Ozzie from a microchip.

Mrs Ratcliffe said that when Ozzie initially left the house the family was not unduly worried.

But this changed when he had not returned several days later.

She said: "We started getting worried and phoned the local vets and police.

"We walked round local streets to see if he had been run over and my children also laminated a photo and put it on lampposts."

Mrs Ratcliffe said her children were very upset when Ozzie could not be found.

As recently as this Christmas they had wondered what had happened to him.

Then, out of the blue, they received a call to say that Ozzie had been found scavenging for food in Millport by a woman.

"Apparently he had been terrorising her cat and she got a bit upset by this and contacted the North Ayrshire branch of Cats Protection," Mrs Ratcliffe said.

"They picked him up from Millport, brought him across the water, scanned him and found that he was a Bearsden cat belonging to us called Ozzie.

"I then got a call on Friday asking if I had lost a cat but I said that was eons ago.

"When we found out it was Ozzie we were delighted. My daughter Hannah was weeping with happiness, she was absolutely delirious.

"Now we have him back he's exactly the same. He's really affectionate and he's very big. He's obviously been fed by people who have looked after him."

Mrs Ratcliffe said she had no idea how Ozzie managed to get away from Bearsden, never mind make it across the water to Millport.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/gla ... 860619.stm

That journey is nearly 50km as the crow flies...
 

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Scientists 'flabbergasted' by songbird migration patterns
Birds carry tiny sun-watching backpacks that record their astonishing speed and range
David Adam guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 February 2009 00.06 GMT

Songbirds fly faster and further than anyone has realised, according to scientists who have tracked their migration routes for the first time. The researchers said they were "flabbergasted" by the findings, which will help biologists predict how climate change and habitat loss will affect the birds.

Songbirds are the most common type of bird, but until now little has been known about their annual journeys because they are too small to carry satellite-tracking devices. Instead, the scientists strapped tiny backpacks that record sunrise and sunset times onto wood thrushes and purple martins, and this data allowed them to plot the birds' flights between Pennsylvania and South America.

The researchers found the birds could fly more than 300 miles per day. In contrast, previous studies had put their daily range at under 100 miles per day. The study also discovered that the birds flew much faster on their journey home in spring: one purple martin, a type of swallow, took 43 days to reach Brazil on its autumn outward leg but in spring returned to its breeding colony in only 13 days.

"To have a bird leave Brazil on 12 April and be home by the end of the month was just astounding. We always assumed they left some time in March," said Bridget Stutchbury, a biologist at York University in Toronto, Canada, who led the study.

The backpacks used technology developed by the British Antarctic Survey and were attached to the birds with thin straps around the legs. The weight lay at the base of the bird's spine so as not to disturb its balance.

Stutchbury said: "Never before has anyone been able to track songbirds for their migratory trip. We were flabbergasted by the birds' spring return times.

"Until now, our hands have been tied in many ways because we didn't know where the birds were going. They would just disappear and then come back in the spring. It's wonderful to now have a window into their journey."

The study, which is reported tomorrow in the journal Science, found prolonged stopovers are common during autumn migration. The purple martins spent up to a month in Mexico en route to their winter homes, for instance. It also showed that wood-thrushes from a single breeding population tend to spend the winter close together: all five tracked birds wintered in a narrow band in eastern Honduras or Nicaragua.

The research could also inform environmental concerns about songbirds, which have declined across the world over the past 30 or 40 years. "Tracking birds to their wintering areas is also essential for predicting the impact of tropical habitat loss and climate change," Stutchbury said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... -migration
 

rynner2

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Butterflies arrive in thousands

More than 3,000 painted lady butterflies on their annual 1,000 mile migration from Africa have been spotted at a nature reserve in Gloucestershire.

Sightings of the insects have been reported across the UK. Wardens said the creatures like the rough grasslands at the reserve in Slimbridge.

Butterfly Conservation believe this is the largest migration of the species in over a decade with more expected.

The butterflies originate from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

James Lees, a warden at the Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, said: "It's truly amazing to stand on the River Severn and see thousands of these small dainty butterflies flying past all heading in the same direction.

"It is remarkable that despite being lighter than paper they are able to navigate and travel thousands of miles over land and sea."

He added that painted ladies preferred rough grasslands with knapweed and thistle and that the reserve was currently covered in wild flowers and wild clover which provided "these butterflies with excellent refuelling snacks during their epic migration."

Dr Martin Warren, of the conservation charity, Butterfly Conservation, said: "There are literally millions of painted lady butterflies arriving right across Britain with more expected this weekend.

"We need the public's help to get better information on the nature and scale of this spectacular and unprecedented migration."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/glou ... 077829.stm

(Video on link)
 

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Dog reunited after 550-mile trip

Owners of a dog which had been missing for more than four months have been left wondering how she ended up more than 550 miles away in East Lothian.

Sonya and William McKerron said 17-year-old collie, Lucy, vanished within minutes of them turning their backs at their home in Cornwall on 6 February.

They told BBC Scotland how they hunted everywhere for her but to no avail.

They had given up hope of seeing their dog again when they received a call from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.

Lucy was reunited with her owners on Tuesday after they received a call on Saturday and drove up from their cottage in Cornwall.

A family in Haddington called the police when they found Lucy had wandered into their garden and she was taken to the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home to be scanned for a micro-chip.

Mrs McKerron said: "It feels overwhelming to see her as we didn't think we would ever find her again.

"I was in the house and I went to the toilet and when I came out she was gone from the drive, never to be seen again.

"We hunted high and low, phoned everybody including rescue centres and because she is chipped we thought we would find her.

"She is not a wanderer but from now on I will be keeping an eye on her so that nobody steals her."

Dave Ewing, Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home manager, said he suspected Lucy had been taken by someone rather than having just become lost.

"I am confident Lucy was taken by someone either because they thought she was genuinely lost and they were doing her a favour or they knew they shouldn't have taken her.

"When we saw her chip had a Cornish phone number we thought we would just try it but we were expecting it to be an old number and that her owners had moved.

"So the staff here were over the moon to find the owners still lived there and that they could be reunited with Lucy."

He added that it proved that chipping pets "pays off".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edi ... 115122.stm
 

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Commuter cat is star of bus route

A cat has become such a well-known user of a Devon bus service that its drivers know where to let him off.

Casper has been queuing with other passengers to get the number three service from his home in Plymouth for months, bus company First said.

It added that he often sat in the queue and then quietly padded on board and curled up on a seat for the ride.

Casper's owner Susan Finden, 55, who picked him from a rescue home in 2002, said he had always been a free spirit.

Mrs Finden said she named her pet after Casper the Friendly Ghost, as he has a habit of wandering off.

A spokesman for First said that drivers had been bussing Casper around for months, but Mrs Finden said she had only just found out about his use of public transport.

The care worker said: "He'd always go off and have a wander.

"Once I had to walk a mile-and-a-half with a cat basket to bring him back from a car park.

"He does love people, and I don't know what the attraction is but he loves big vehicles like lorries and buses."

A notice has been put up by First in the bus drivers' rest room in Plymouth bus station asking them to look after the rogue passenger if they spot him sneaking on board.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/8174850.stm
 

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The post above is spam, it links to a completely irrelevant site, which has nothing to do with the post....
 

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Cats' tale which leads to Germany
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/nort ... 226955.stm

Stu and Chris are friendly and comfortable around strangers
The phrase Auf Wiedersehen Pet has taken on a new meaning after two cats were found to have travelled from Germany to Northern Ireland.

The animals were found straying in Coleraine, County Londonderry, five weeks ago.

They were brought to a vet in Limavady and so far attempts to contact their owners have been unsuccessful.

But the cats, lent the names Stu and Chris by the clinic, were microchipped and tattooed in Germany.

The clinic has been looking after the cats since.

Maggie Bobby of the North-West Pet Rescue and Re-homing Centre has been helping in the bid to trace the cats' owners.

On Saturday, she said she believes she now knows the name and address of the owner, but has been unable to contact them.

She also said that they had received two calls from people offering to look after the cats.

"They are beautiful, the most lovely cats you could meet. If we can't find the owners, we would love to find a good home for them," she said.

Vet Michael Forgie, of Roe Valley Veterinary Clinic, said: "We realised when we scanned them they had a microchip, and a tattoo which is done in Germany and relevant to Germany.

"The central agency that deals with microchips, Petlog, were able to tell us they came from Germany.

Microchip

"The problem is, German vets can't release the name of the owners because of confidentiality.

"We have a German client and we got her to ring up to see if the German microchip people would contact police in Coleraine to see if the owners were living or taking up residence in Northern Ireland."

Mr Forgie said he did not know why the cats had been brought to Northern Ireland, but said the fact they had been micro-chipped indicated the owners "must have thought a good bit about them".

He said tests had revealed one of the cats had the feline form of HIV - feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

The owners or potential foster carers for Stu and Chris are asked to contact Roe Valley Vets on 028777 62528.
 

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Lost cat turns up 500 miles away

A missing cat has been found almost 500 miles away from his Scottish home, more than a year after he went missing.

Sampson was handed into a vet centre in Plymouth, Devon, on Sunday - 478 miles away from Penicuik in Midlothian.

The cat, who had been thought to be a stray in Plymouth, was identified by a micro-chip, and will now be reunited with owner Linda Jansen.

Ms Jansen said: "Forget the Proclaimers, my cat really did walk 500 miles."

She said: "I have no idea how he travelled so far. He may have been trying to get home but was walking in the wrong direction."

Ms Jansen and her two daughters Kirsten, 12, and Lauren, 16, first rescued Sampson from a cat sanctuary in the Borders.

She said: "A lot of people knew him. He was such a character and really was the man of the house, it was so strange when he went missing and we couldn't find him."

She had given up hope of seeing her the cat again and even crossed his name off at his vet.

Then on Sunday she received a call from the Woodlands Veterinary Surgery in the Devon town.

She said: "I couldn't sleep at all after I got the call. I had given up on seeing him again. The odd thing is that he is a very bad traveller, he always gets car sick when he travels so I can't imagine him lasting on a long road trip like that."

Because of the distances involved Ms Jansen was unsure how to bring Sampson home and approached Edinburgh-based Eagle Couriers to find out about shipping charges.

After hearing the full story the firm then offered to transport the cat for free. :D

Director Fiona Deas said: "His is one of the most amazing pet stories I have ever heard. I don't suppose we'll ever find out how the animal ended up on the south coast of England, but we can make sure it gets home safely.

"As an animal lover myself I can't even begin to imagine the kind of shock and elation the owner must be feeling at the moment."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edi ... 256756.stm
 

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Cats and dogs? Old hat - make way for...

Tortoise crosses M25
A tortoise nicknamed Freeway crossed five lanes of London's M25 motorway and survived
Published: 8:00AM BST 19 Sep 2009

Driver John Formby spotted Freeway and pulled over to rescue him.

Mr Formby, from Worthing, said: "I saw this bundle in the road and thought it was a bit of debris. I went to swerve it but noticed it was moving - then saw it had a head.

"I couldn't believe it was a tortoise crossing the motorway, through traffic travelling at 70mph.

"I pulled over and ran 400 yards back up the road to get it.

"I was holding my breath as it came from the central reservation towards the hard shoulder.

"Three vehicles went right over the top of it but somehow missed it. It didn't even pop back into its shell, just kept on walking as if it knew it had to get to the other side." :shock:

He ran out and picked him Freway in the slow lane, stopped off to buy him lunch of lettuce and tomato, before driving him to an animal centre near his home, where vets found he had been microchipped - in America. :shock: :shock:

Billy Elliot, of the Worthing and District Animal Sanctuary, said: "That explained why he was on the wrong side of the road. 8)

"We have named him Freeway for now, the American word for motorway."

Freeway was found on the junction of the M25 and M23, miles from the nearest house.

Mr Elliott said: "People always think of tortoises as slow, but turn your back on them and they can disappear before you know it. About this time of year he might have been off looking for a mate.

"It's a miracle he survived. He could have been on the road for a long time before he was picked up. It was the busiest time of the day on one of the busiest roads in the country. He couldn't have picked a worse place to go for a stroll."

Freeway, a Hermann's tortoise, thought to be about 10 years old, is being cared for by vets for the weekend while Mr Elliott tries to trace his owners.

He said: "Freeway is in very good health and well cared for. He has obviously been brought over from America as a pet so there must be a family out there missing him. He is likely to live another 50 or 60 years. We would love to find the family.

"Whenever we get an exotic pet handed over we get dozens of calls from people claiming it is theirs so it's great he is chipped.

"It just shows how important it is to keep your details up to date on your pet's chip database when you move house or change your phone number."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... s-M25.html
 

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Turtle sticks to British isles on 550-mile journey in the Caribbean
Frank Pope, Ocean Correspondent

An anglophile green turtle has made a 550-mile journey through the Caribbean, sticking to territories administered by Britain.

Following her progress via a satellite tracking device on her shell, scientists watched with incredulity as she skipped non-British nations on her month-long trip. 8)

“This is the first time that turtles from Turks and Caicos have been tracked and we didn’t know where they would go,” said Peter Richardson, of the Marine Conservation Society, one of the groups involved in the project. “We thought she might head to neighbouring countries. We certainly wouldn’t have predicted that she would go from one British Overseas Territory to another.” :shock:

After being fitted with a a teardrop-shaped device that transmits her location by the Global Positioning System when she surfaces, the adult green turtle dawdled in local waters for two months before starting her migration on September 1.

From Turks and Caicos, “Suzie” headed 500 miles to the east, directly to the waters of the British Virgin Islands, steering well clear of the palm-fringed shores of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the south. Neither nation is considered by conservationists to have adequate protection for turtles.

Hunting green turtles is not totally banned in British territories, despite their endangered status. In Turks and Caicos they can be taken if their shell is more than 20 inches long. Suzie, with her 40-inch shell, was fair game when caught by fishermen in June, only to be saved by scientists from the tagging project who bought her freedom.

When she reached the British Virgin Islands she was safe, for the hunting of individuals with shells more than 24 inches long is only allowed between December and March. After staying there for a week, the turtle took a more circuitous 75-mile trip to Anguilla, whose government has imposed a 15-year ban on all turtle-fishing to let populations recover.

Suzie was not just going with the flow, Mr Richardson said. “The first part of her journey was against the current, so she wasn’t being carried. We’re not quite sure what she’s up to. The mating season is almost over, so we have to assume she’s heading to feeding grounds, but it could be that she’s a very late breeder. We’ll only find out by continuing to track her movements.”

The tour may not be a one-off for the turtle. “Females appear to show allegiance to feeding areas as well as to their nesting sites. They stick to them,” said Dan Evans, of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation. “Some do loops and circles, but mainly in the Caribbean we’re seeing fairly direct routes.”

While elephants are known to avoid dangerous areas, it is unclear whether Suzie was doing the same. “We track turtles from Costa Rica, where the Government spends a great deal of money and effort protecting them, to Nicaragua where they get slaughtered by the hundreds or thousands. Elephants are intelligent animals, but while I love sea turtles they are not very intelligent,” Mr Evans said.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/s ... 856158.ece
 

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Stowaway grasshopper is UK first

A lone grasshopper never before seen in the UK arrived on a flight into Stansted Airport last week.

The so-called painted grasshopper (Poeklocerus pictus) arrived from India, where it is known as crop-munching pest.

The 6cm-long insect sports bright blue and yellow colours to warn potential predators that it is not all that tasty a treat.

The specimen was identified by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).

"The visitor has a voracious appetite and rapidly ate its way through a cabbage plant in the quarantine lab," said Fera entomologist Chris Malumphy.

"Grasshoppers can consume green forage roughly eight times as fast as cattle in proportion to their weight."

Fera said that animal stowaways are not at all uncommon, and insects imported accidentally or otherwise can pose a significant risk to crops if they end up in the local ecosystem.

However, the lone visitor will not be able to reproduce, and Fera said it would have been unlikely to survive the UK climate - meaning it poses none of the dangers it does at home.

"This insect is an economic pest in Pakistan and India where it is reported damaging a number of food plants including aubergine, citrus, cucurbits, potatoes and tomatoes," Dr Malumphy said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8322141.stm
 

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Walking award for hill-loving dog

An adventurous dog from the Yorkshire Dales which regularly tackles the area's famous hills has been given a special award by the national park.

Morris, a 13-year-old collie-springer spaniel cross from Chapel-le-Dale, sneaks out of his home to join groups of hikers on the Three Peaks trail.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have now made Morris an honorary friend of the park's peaks.

He was also given a medal for scaling Ingleborough 32 times since April.

At 723m (2372ft) Ingleborough forms part of the Three Peaks walk which also includes Pen-y-ghent and Whernside. Morris lives in a pub situated on the walk's route so he encounters many walkers passing through.

Morris's owner Sabena Martin said: "He tends to head towards Horton which is quite a big mileage, and very often he ends up at the cafe there where he gets a sausage and awaits pick up." 8)

Mrs Martin added that if they were in the area the local taxi firm would bring Morris home.

Alan Hulme, of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: "Morris is a professional escapologist but, generally, if you are planning to take your dog on a walk in the area, we would recommend that it is kept on a lead."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nort ... 411704.stm
 

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The incredible journey: How Baltic the mongrel drifted 20 miles out to sea on river ice and survived
By Matthew Taylor
Last updated at 8:32 AM on 28th January 2010

A dog was rescued from an iceberg floating 18 miles from land in the Baltic Sea.
Sailors plucked the animal to safety after it got trapped on ice on Poland's Vistula river and drifted for more than 70 miles.

Rescuer Adam Buczynski said: 'He didn't even squeal. There was just fear in his big eyes.'

It’s thought Baltic’s problems began when he got trapped on ice on the Vistula River near Torun on Friday.
A day later he was spotted in Grudziadz, 40 miles upstream, where fireman tried to reach the German shepherd-type mongrel.
But thick ice made it too risky to launch a rescue craft despite Baltic floating just a few yards from the river bank.
Another bid to save the stranded mutt was made at Kwidzyn, 22 miles further on towards Poland’s coast.

After sightings dried up it was assumed the dog had perished.
But incredibly Baltic had travelled a further 50 miles to the river mouth before heading out to the ocean where finally his luck turned when scientists on a research boat spotted something odd moving amid the broken ice.
Natalia Drgas, of the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, said: 'One of the sailors thought they had seen another seal but then he noticed it had legs, ears and a tail.'

However the men onboard the Baltica soon found saving the stranded dog was by no means plain sailing.
First they tried to catch the dog in a net on a pole but when that failed they had to drop a pontoon with crewmen.
Seaman Adam Buczynski said: 'We tried to sail as close as possible but as we approached the boat pushed the ice and the dog was sliding off.
'The dog didn’t even yelp but you could see the fear in his eyes.'
With darkness falling and time running out Baltic was finally hauled on board in sub zero temperatures late on Monday.

Captain Jan Jachim said if his ship had passed that way a few moments later the dog would never have been spotted amid the gloom.
He said: 'We were just at the right place at the right time.'
And he added that few boats chart those waters at that time of year.
'Baltic was drifting with the current further and further out to the open sea. He would have gone further if we hadn’t seen him.'
But Captain Jachim may not have seen the last of the Baltic, the salty seadog. If no-one claims him, the lucky hound will be adopted as the ship's mascot.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldne ... z0duIXnG58
 

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This dog probably didn't journey under its own free will...

Iggy: missing labrador pet dog returns home after five years
A girl, Brierley Howard, has been reunited with her pet dog, Iggy, almost five years after it vanished.
Published: 7:30AM GMT 16 Mar 2010

The 12 year-old was overjoyed when she was told that Iggy the labrador had turned up 130 miles away.

Iggy was an 18-month-old puppy when he disappeared in August 2005.

Brierley and her brother Jasper, now 14, were devastated. Their mum and dad Karen and Eric believed he had been stolen.

But the family, from Balladen, in Rawtenstall, Lancs, are celebrating after Iggy was spotted wandering the streets in Leicester and taken to a vet.

The vet discovered Iggy was fitted with a microchip and he has now been reunited with Brierley and her family.

Mrs Howard, 44, said: "We had given up all hope.

"It is just so great to have him back - although I would never have recognised him. He has put on quite a bit of weight."

"Amazingly though he is just the same and still plays like he is a puppy.

"Fortunately for us, the woman took him to a vet, they scanned him and got in touch with the microchip people. They said the only thing we have got on this scan is this dog was stolen five years ago.

"When I rang the lady she said 'What did you say his name was?' I told her and she repeated it and then said 'Oh goodness, his ears pricked up'. He remembered his name." :D After returning home, Iggy found that he had a new doggie playmate, Odie.

However, his old lead had been kept.

Mrs Howard, a photographer, said the story is proof microchipping can make all the difference, no matter how long it takes.

She said: "We felt we couldn't not go back for him.

"So we drove down to Leicester that night. We just told the kids we had got some exciting news and they were thrilled.

"There hasn't been a week gone by when I didn't worry or wonder where he was. He's just adorable, but massively overweight. He's obviously been cared for but not had much exercise. The dog warden in Leicester said the theft of dogs is quite a big thing.

"Dogs are stolen and it's normal for them to be driven a distance so there's no chance of them being found."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... years.html
 

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'Oldest' osprey returns to nest

The UK's oldest known breeding female osprey has returned to Scotland for the 20th consecutive year.

The female bird has amazed staff at the Scottish Wildlife Trust's (SWT) Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve.

It was spotted landing on its usual nesting site, known as an eyrie, on Tuesday, having completed a 3,000 mile migration from West Africa.

At an estimated 25 years old, it has reached three times the average lifespan of an osprey.

Emma Rawling, SWT's Perthshire ranger, said: "We are truly amazed at the tenacity and endurance of this particular female osprey.

"Defying her age, she has made it back to us again and from initial sightings she looks like she is in remarkably good condition."

It is expected that the female osprey's breeding partner, a male osprey identified with a green leg ring, will arrive within a week.

This resident male will then chase away any other males before breeding.

The female osprey is known to have laid 55 eggs, 46 of which hatched into chicks that left the nest.

Ms Rawling added: "We will be watching the nest with bated breath to see if our female can hatch any chicks again this year."

Throughout the breeding season the eyrie will be visible via a nest camera on screens in the visitor centre and on the trust's website.

A team of about 70 volunteers watch the nest 24 hours a day to safeguard any eggs from thieves and poachers.

About 200 pairs of osprey breed in Scotland.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/tay ... 586275.stm

6000 M/y for 25 y is 150,000 M!
 

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I do love these kinds of stories!

CHICAGO — No one knows how a tabby cat named Charles traveled the 1,300 miles from his New Mexico home to Chicago, but he's set for a complimentary flight home on American Airlines in a carrier donated by an Albuquerque business.

Charles disappeared about eight months ago while his owner was out of town and a friend was caring for him.

"Oh, I was crushed, and I found out while I was away volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and I was so upset because I was in New Orleans so there was nothing I could do," said Robin Alex, of Albuquerque.

Then earlier this week, Alex received a call telling her Chicago Animal Care and Control had picked up her wandering cat as a stray. Staffers reached out to Alex after finding that Charles had a tracking microchip embedded between his shoulder blades, said the agency's executive director, Cherie Travis.

But Alex said she could not afford the round-trip ticket to Chicago to bring Charles home, so she was afraid he might be euthanized.

Enter fellow Albuquerque resident Lucien Sims. Sims said he has a tabby cat who strongly resembles Charles, and was moved when his mother sent him an online story about Alex and her pet.

Most importantly, Sims was on his way to Chicago on Thursday for a wedding, so he said he would go to the shelter, pick up Charles and bring him back to New Mexico.

Sims has made all the arrangements for Charles' return, including getting a company to donate a cat carrier and American Airlines to waive the cat's travel fee.

Travis said Charles is definitely ready for his next adventure.

"He's in good condition," she said. "He needs a good brushing. He's got a little bit of a cold — a little bit of an upper respiratory infection — but otherwise he's in great condition."
LINK
 

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Cornish ferry stowaway shrew flown home
Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 07:42 UK

A rare shrew which stowed away on board a ferry from the Isles of Scilly to Cornwall has been flown home.

The two-inch (5cm) shrew was discovered on the Scillonian III in a corner of the upper deck as staff were clearing the area near the gangway.

The mammal, unique to the islands, was cared for by a wildlife expert during a one night stopover in Penzance.

The stowaway was repatriated on a Skybus plane and then released back into its natural environment.

The shrew was discovered by a member of the Scillonian's crew as the ferry was about to arrive in Penzance.

Paul Semmens, the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust's onboard marine guide, identified it as a Scilly shrew which was about two months old - the species is not found on the British mainland.

He looked after it in Penzance overnight, feeding it regularly through the night with woodlice, earthworms and cat food.

He said: "Shrews have a high metabolic rate, so I had to keep feeding it.

"Luckily our furry stowaway survived the night and we made arrangements to get the shrew repatriated back to the Isles of Scilly via Skybus."

Angie Gall from the wildlife trust was at St Mary's airport on the islands to meet the shrew off its flight from Penzance.

She said: "The little animal was in excellent condition and we successfully released the shrew back into its natural environment."

Managers at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company said they thought it could have been the smallest passenger to travel on the Scillonian III and the Skybus. 8)

Kevin Ayres from the company said: "We were just pleased that our plane and ship were able to come to the rescue and repatriation of this little animal and it was returned safely to its rightful home."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/corn ... 337485.stm

Stuff like this often gets turned into children's books - "Steve the Stowaway Shrew"? I'd better get writing! 8)
 

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Perhaps the most remarkable animal journey of all:

'Wizard of Oz' dog reunited with owner after storm deposits him 20 MILES from home
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 5:52 PM on 23rd June 2010

The owner of a dog apparently swept away in a violent storm were amazed when somone called to say they had found him - 20 miles from home.

Agnes Tamas had chained her beloved pet, Bruno, to a kennel outside her home in the Hungarian town of Gesztered.
When the storm hit, she was too afraid of the hurricane-force winds to risk saving the poor animal.
Agnes, 57, said: 'I saw the roofs of the local houses being ripped off one by one.
'I ran into my garden to try and get to the cellar, and I couldn't believe it when the dog house flew up into the air - complete with my dog cowering inside.
'It was like something out of the Wizard of Oz.'
:shock:

Bruno was eventually found 20 miles away after local radio broadcast an appeal for him to be traced.
The dog house and the chain however had vanished.

Kalman Csutor called the emergency services after he came across Bruno.
He said: 'The dog as pretty shaken - I have no idea what happened to the dog house or whether the wind carried him all that way - but when I found him he was 20 miles from home.'
Just in case little Bruno isn't confused enough, Agnes has decided to rename him 'Lucky'. 8)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldne ... z0rlY3A5yx
 

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The Great Escape: Lottie the runaway tortoise is found a mile-and-a-half from home (but it took her two years to get there)
By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 8:08 PM on 29th June 2010

Maybe she was born to be wild.

Just two days after Lottie the tortoise moved to live with her new owners in a suburban family home, she disappeared and set off on an incredible journey.

The enterprising reptile escaped out of the back garden, into the adjoining school playing fields and the big wide world beyond.
Schoolgirl Maddie Tibble was naturally very upset when she discovered her tortoise, given as a ninth birthday present, had gone and eventually accepted she would never see the little creature again.

But amazingly, almost two years later, Lottie was found plodding down a road on the far side of the playing fields.
True to the reputation of these most sluggish of creatures, the tortoise had travelled just one-and-a-half miles in all that time.

Yet despite fending for herself and having to endure one of the hardest winters in decades, she survived in fine health.

Lottie was handed in to the local vets in Grays, Essex, who was able to return the pet to her astonished owner because she had been fitted with a microchip.
'I just didn't believe it was her,' said Maddie, 10. 'I was really shocked I just thought it must be another tortoise, but I am so pleased to have her back.'

Her mother Beth Tibble, 44, was equally taken aback by the discovery. The tortoise vanished in August 2008 and has just been found.

She said: 'We are so pleased to have Lottie back and in good health. We live on the back of William Edwards School playing fields and all I can think is that she has been plodding around there for this whole time.

'Maddie was so upset. We did get a new tortoise but we gave it away because it was just not the same.'

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0sKM0GJHH
 

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Save the dog on Death Row! Time running out for British terrier Poppy who was found on the streets of Toulouse
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:11 PM on 16th September 2010

A search has been launched for the owners of a dog from the UK which is now on 'Death Row' in France.
Poppy, a black Patterdale terrier cross, was microchipped in Bristol but has ended up alone on the streets of Toulouse.
She will be put down unless her owners are found.

In 2002 Poppy was registered as belonging to the Barton family of Park Road, Bristol, but so far all inquiries to find them have come to a dead end.
Lynn Headford, a volunteer at DogLost, an online database for lost dogs, said: 'Poppy was just found wandering the streets in Toulouse. She's quite an old dog and, although she was taken into a rescue centre, they have so many dogs there that they tend to put the older ones down first.

'Poppy could be put down in three weeks. She's on Death Row at the moment. If no-one comes forward she will be put down.'
DogLost is already offering to contribute to the cost of bringing Poppy back home.
Mrs Headford said: 'It's not just as simple as getting her on a ferry and bringing her back - there's quarantine and injections that also cost.
'Ideally we'd love to find the owner and are optimistic this could still happen but, if we can't, we are looking at finding a foster home in France, just to give her more time.'

Mrs Headford said how Poppy got to France was a complete mystery.
'She's such an old, little dog and she's got all the way to France. It's such a big mystery, it would just be great if she could talk and tell us her story,' she said.


Anyone with any information to help Poppy should call 0844 800 3220 or visit www.doglost.co.uk.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0zm8waFkP

Sadly, I think she's been dumped. :(
 

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Lucky escape for women florists as world's deadliest frog leaps out of exotic flowers from Colombia
Last updated at 5:50 PM on 6th October 2010

Florist Debbie Wilding jumped out of her skin as she unpacked a box of exotic flowers and came face to face with a colourful frog. What she didn't know was that it was one of the deadliest creatures on the planet.
A Phantasmal poison dart frog may be pretty but its poison is lethal, and as Debbie and her colleagues tried to recapture it, one of them rang nearby Myerscough College and was warned: 'Whatever you do, don't touch it!'
The one-and-a-half-inch long frog is one of the most poisonous creatures on Earth, and any contact with it would have serious consequences.

Florist owner Ruth Marriner and her staff kept a safe distance until experts from Myerscough in Preston arrived to collect it.
It took three of them to catch the frog, nicknamed Flora by the florists, and seal it safely in a box for examination by the college's small animal team before being released to Blackpool Zoo.

The frog had amazingly survived the 4,200-mile journey from Colombia to an auction house in Holland, where it was then refrigerated for another long lorry journey to Huddersfield and finally on to the shop in Cherry Tree, Blackburn.

Ruth Marrinner, who runs the flower shop, has been a florist for 30 years and said the frog was the most bizarre find she has come across to date.
She said: 'Debbie was unwrapping a pack of tropical foliage and as she was going through it she spotted something jump.
'We are not squeamish because you often get spiders, or snails, in the packs. Louise Ryding rang her sister-in-law at Myerscough College and they said "don't touch it".
'It was very lively considering the journey it had made. We are looking forward to taking our families to see it when it goes to Blackpool Zoo.'

The natural habitat of a Phantasmal poison frog - one of the smallest varieties in the world - is the Andean slopes of central Ecuador.
Its radiant colours are a warning signal to stay away as its poison is lethal.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z11f0viomE

My sister in law is a florist - I never knew it could be so exciting! 8)
 

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25 February 2011 Last updated at 00:25
Sea turtles' migration mystery is 'solved'
By Camille Ebden, BBC News

Until now, how species such as loggerhead sea turtles manage to migrate thousands of miles across oceans with no visual landmarks has been a mystery.
Now researchers from the University of North Carolina believe they have found the answer.
Loggerhead sea turtles appear to be able to determine their longitude using two sets of magnetic cues.
It is the first time this ability has been shown in any migratory animal.
This research is published in the journal Current Biology.

Although several species of turtles are known to use magnetic cues to determine latitude, it was believed that this wasn't possible for longitude.
However, the loggerhead turtles have managed to surprise researchers by developing a method that involves using the strength and angle of the Earth's magnetic field.

Nathan Putman, the lead author of the research emphasised that "the most difficult part of open-sea navigation is determining longitude or east-west position".
"It took human navigators centuries to figure out how to determine longitude on their long-distance voyages".

Loggerhead hatchlings, however, are able to mange this feat as soon as they reach the sea from their nests.
On reaching the sea, the hatchlings are able to establish the correct course to the open ocean.
The young loggerheads then spend several years successfully navigating complex migratory routes over thousands of miles of ocean.

To carry out the research loggerhead hatchlings from Florida were placed in circular water containers and tethered to electronic tracking systems to monitor their swimming direction.

The hatchlings were then exposed to magnetic fields which replicated the fields they would come across in two locations on the same latitude but different longitude along their migratory route.
The turtles reacted to each magnetic field by swimming in the directions that would, in the real location, take them along their circular migratory route.
The researchers say this shows that the hatchlings are able to determine longitude using information from the magnetic field.

Nathan Putman explains that "along the migratory route of loggerheads, nearly all regions are marked by unique combinations of intensity (field strength) and inclination angle (the angle that field lines intersect the surface of the Earth)".
"Thus, turtles can determine longitudinal position by using pairings of intensity and inclination angle as an X, Y coordinate system".

Dr Kenneth Lohmann, director of the laboratory where this research was carried out, said the research "not only solves a long-standing mystery of animal behaviour but may also be useful in sea turtle conservation".

The research might even have a role to play in the development of human navigational technologies, according to Nathan Putman.
"There may be situations where satellite might not be available, where this system of using two aspects of a magnetic field could be very useful".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12559705
 

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Sharks navigate using 'mental maps'
By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News

Some shark species make "mental maps" of their home ranges, allowing them to pin-point destinations up to 50km (30 miles) away, research suggests.
US-based scientists analysed data from tiger sharks tagged with acoustic transmitters, and found that they took directed paths from place to place.
Other species such as blacktip reef sharks did not show this behaviour.

Writing in the Journal of Animal Ecology, researchers suggest this shows a capacity to store maps of key sites.
In addition, it is further evidence that the great fish can navigate, possibly using the Earth's magnetic field.

Earlier research in Hawaii had shown tiger sharks swimming across deep channels and finding shallow banks rich in food 50km away.
In this project, researchers used statistical techniques to show the journeys were not made by accident; the sharks were following some kind of path.

Blacktips, however, did not. A third species, thresher sharks, also showed "directed walking" like the tigers, but on much smaller scales.

"Our research shows that, at times, tiger sharks and thresher sharks don't swim randomly but swim to specific locations," said research leader Yannis Papastamatiou from the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
"Simply put, they know where they are going."

A key question is how they know where they are going.
Sharks are among the wide array of animals that can sense magnetic fields.
But whereas others, such as yellowfin tuna, apparently do this using small amounts of the mineral magnetite in their heads, sharks do not appear to maintain deposits of this magnetic sensor.

Alternative possibilities are that they use signals from ocean currents, water temperature or smell.
"They have to have a pretty good navigation system because the distances are great," Dr Papastamatiou told BBC News.
"Which one it is is open to debate, but the fact that many of these journeys took place at night - you and I would think there's nothing to orientate to, so orientating to magnetic fields is one possibility."

Among thresher sharks, adults made much longer directed journeys than juveniles.
The researchers say this suggests the fish build up mental maps as they mature.

The differences between species are probably explained by the varying ways in which they live.
Blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus), although widespread around the Pacific, appear to have small ranges within their home reef system.
On the other hand, tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) can cover huge distances. Tags have been recovered from individuals more than 3,000km away from where they were attached.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12612655
 

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Edinburgh Haymarket ferret 'took London train'

A ferret has been rescued from an Edinburgh station after apparently getting off a train from London.
The male ferret, named Mickey by animal welfare officers, was found at Haymarket train station on Monday.
He appeared on platform four at about 1900 GMT when the train from London was in the station.

Staff managed to catch the ferret, which is now being cared for by the Scottish SPCA. The animal charity is urging his owner to come forward.

Insp Jenny Scott, of the Scottish SPCA, said: "When I arrived to collect the ferret the staff had managed to catch him and put him in a box.
"We're not sure if he has escaped from someone's house nearby or if he has ventured further and travelled all the way from England on the train.
"He's very friendly so he is obviously someone's pet.
"We'd love to return him to his owner as I'm sure they'll be missing him a lot."

The ferret is now being cared for at the charity's animal rescue and rehoming centre in Balerno.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-e ... e-12820220
 
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