Cornwall

Cornish ferry stowaway shrew flown home

The stowaway shrew
Image caption The stowaway shrew was thought to be about two months old

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.

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."

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