Raccoon rampages around Northampton family's home
A wily raccoon went on the rampage around a family's home after finding its way inside through a catflap.
Marek Chapanionek initially thought the intruder was a cat, but soon realised the unusual visitor was a more exotic species.
The critter stole a cereal bar from his wife's handbag before running upstairs and opening a chest of drawers.
He eventually trapped the animal in a hallway, where it took a nap before the RSPCA arrived in the morning.
Mr Chapanionek, who first spoke to the Northampton Chronicle, managed to take photos of the furry house guest as it made itself at home.
He said he heard noises on Monday night which alerted him to the raccoon's presence in his home on Denton Road in Horton, Northamptonshire.
"I noticed this dark thing coming out of my wife's handbag, and thought, 'That's quite a large cat'... that's when our own cat Dotty legged it out of the house," he told the BBC.
The raccoon began walking towards him, holding the cereal bar it had found in the bag, before running up the stairs.
Having failed to open the wrapper, the raccoon went into an empty bedroom, opened a chest of drawers and began rooting through clothing.
Mr Chapanionek said he managed to get it downstairs and trapped in a corridor.
"But I had to wedge a chair under the door handle as it knew how to open them," he said.
His wife Caroline managed to sleep through the commotion "until she heard me making frantic telephone calls, trying to get through to the RSPCA", Mr Chapanionek said.
Clearly worn out by its antics, the raccoon took several naps in a corner, as Mr Chapanionek slept in the lounge "to make sure it didn't escape".
The RSPCA arrived the following morning and took the raccoon away.
It is not yet known where the raccoon - which is native to North America - came from.
However, an RSPCA spokesman said: "When raccoons are found stray, it is usually because they have been kept as a pet and have either escaped or been abandoned deliberately.
"They are wild animals and we would strongly discourage people from buying or keeping one as a pet."