DCSIMG

Sighting of large rodent causes stir

A SIGHTING has been made near Eyemouth of a large UFO - an Unidentified Furry Object.

Just months after a so-called "were-rabbit" plagued a Northumberland village, there appears to be a Beast of Berwickshire.

There have previously been sightings of large cats in Scotland but this animal seems to be a very large rodent like a giant guinea pig.

The sighting was made by motorist Mark Pentecost, of Reston, who saw it sitting in the middle of the A1 as he was driving home from Berwick.

He was just south of Eyemouth when he spotted a largish animal around two foot tall sitting on its haunches in the middle of the road.

Strangely, it did not move at all as Mr Pentecost drove past it and it was so still that at first he thought it was a child's stuffed toy.

Perplexed, he watched it in his rear view mirror and saw it amble off towards the coast.

"It was dark brown and reminded me of a guinea pig or a beaver in shape but it was much, much larger and had a curious rolling gait," said Mr Pentecost.

As it was only 6.30pm on a summer evening, visibility was good and the car was only feet away from the animal so he saw it clearly.

When he arrived home he told his wife, Barbara, what he had seen and she thought it sounded like a capybara.

These are normally found in South America but having looked at photographs since the incident on July 19, Mr Pentecost agrees that the two creatures look very similar.

As well as reporting the sighting to DEFRA, Mr Pentecost got in touch with the Berwickshire News to find out if any other readers had spotted anything like the animal that he drove past.

We got in touch with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) who said that although they had not had any reports of capybara roaming the countryside there have been previous sightings of another rodent called a coypu.

"We have had reports of coypu in that part of the world but it would be very exciting if it was a capybara," said a spokeswoman.

Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world and very much like giant guinea pigs.

They live in tall grasslands that border rivers and streams and are vegetarians. Gentle creatures, they make a low clicking noise when they are happy and are fairly sociable as they are the only rodents that live in herds.

The capybara has a broad head, a blunt nose, small ears and coarse reddish brown hair.

Its legs are fairly short and it has webbed toes which make it an excellent swimmer.

The creature's lifespan is about 10 years but few make it due to predators like jaguars, cougars, large snakes and alligators.

"It should be all right in Eyemouth," the SPCA spokeswoman pointed out.

However as the capybara can weigh up to 160 pounds she suggested that the creaure was more likely to be a coypu which, although also native to South America, was introduced to the British Isles in 1929 when fur farms were set up in lowland areas rich in rivers and streams.

There were at least three in Scotland and one was in Penicuik. Many coypus escaped and despite attempts to control them they adapted well to their new British habitat.

The coypu is about one metre (39 inches) in length from the end of it's muzzle to the tip of it's round scaly tail. It has dark reddish brown fur, short rounded ears and small eyes that are set high on the head like those of a beaver.

Adult males weigh around 7kg (15.5lbs) and it is one of the largest rodents in the world - only the capybara is larger.

Coypus usually emerge from their burrows and become active just before sunset, returning underground again just before sunrise.

In Britain they do feed during the day which is not the case in south America. Within their home range they establish continuous runways through the vegetation on which they feed, eventually circling back to the water again.

On land they move slowly, with a crouching gait but, if disturbed, they will bound away rapidly.

"Both animals are relatively harmless although when you get significant numbers of foreign species it can have a knock-on effect on the indigenous animals," said the SCPA spokeswoman. "A solitary one is not going to do much harm and it is possible that it is either a coypu or a capybara.

Capybaras are kept in British wildlife parks and occasionally will escape as they are usually allowed to roam around because they are so gentle."

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Zoo said the creature was not one of their capybaras but confirmed that it could survive in the wilds of Berwickshire.

A spokesman for DEFRA said there had not been any other reports of capybaras in the area.

George Caldow of the Scottish Agricultural College's vetinary centre at St Boswells said: "We have heard nothing about a Beast of Berwickshire but we would only be involved if a dead one had been found."

nanmacfarlane@tweeddalepress.co.uk

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page