Somerset

Appeal to find owner of raccoon 'mistaken as a badger'

Bandit the raccoon
Image caption The raccoon has been named as Bandit by staff at Secret World

A raccoon, which was mistaken for a badger, has been captured near Taunton and is being cared for at a local wildlife centre.

The creature kept visiting a garden in Henlade which prompted the owners to contact the Somerset Badger Group.

Homeowner Kenneth Beazley said: "We thought it was a badger, we were quite surprised. We've been here over 30 years and never had any problems."

The raccoon, named Bandit, is now being looked after by staff at Secret World.

'Heart-wrencher'

The Somerset Badger Group contacted staff at Secret World who had been monitoring badgers in the area.

They set up motion sensor cameras and later lured the creature into a baited trap which is when they discovered it was a raccoon.

Rescue worker Sara Cowen said: "It's really unusual to find a raccoon living in the wild here, they're a North American species, so it would have been an animal that someone specifically had as a pet, I imagine, as he is okay to be handled."

It is not known how long Bandit had been living in the wild.

Ms Cowen said: "He has been managing alright. He is a nice big, fat and healthy raccoon.

"They're opportunists, they're scavengers - they'll pretty much go through bins and take what they need as they're so dexterous, they'll quite easily get inside a wheelie bin."

Staff have said they hope the owner will come forward but no-one has contacted them so far.

If no-one comes forward, the charity has said it will find a long-term home for Bandit.

"He is absolutely gorgeous, a proper little heart-wrencher, he's just very sweet, very cute," said Ms Cowen.

"I'll be sad to see him go - he is quite happy here eating cupcakes and raisins."

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