Beds, Herts & Bucks

Dunstable bald squirrel 'safe and alive' after capture

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Media captionThe 'famous' bald squirrel of Dunstable

A hairless squirrel which had evaded attempts to catch it after fears it would not survive the cold weather has been caught, a rescue centre has said.

The unusual creature had been spotted in a park in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue, which had been searching for it in Grove Gardens, said "the animal is now safe" in a post on its Facebook page.

A centre volunteer confirmed the animal was alive, but would not reveal its whereabouts.

It had teamed up with the RSPCA after receiving several calls from the public and concerns the squirrel could freeze to death.

Temperatures at nearby Luton Airport fell to 0C on Saturday.

A centre spokesman confirmed to the BBC the squirrel was "safe and alive" but could not reveal any further information about what would happen to it now.

'Genetic defect'

The RSPCA said under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it was generally illegal to release grey squirrels back to the wild once treated by a vet.

Dr Helen McRobie, a lecturer in biomedical science at the Anglia Ruskin University, said she had never heard of a bald squirrel before but it would "need to be kept in the warm once the temperature drops".

"This is very rare. I have been studying squirrels for years, but I have never come across one without any hair," she said.

"If the skin was patchy I would say that it was more likely to have been caused by a disease like mange, but the squirrel is completely bald, suggesting it is probably a genetic defect."

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