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Published: 14:27, 14 February 2020
| Updated: 14:47, 14 February 2020
Staff could nut believe their eyes when they spotted a red squirrel nibbling on bird-feed at a garden centre.
The once-abundant creature has been extinct in Kent since the 1960s - but one fluffy-tailed ruddy rodent arrived at Maytree Nurseries in Dunkirk on Wednesday.
Video courtesy of Maytree Nurseries
The squirrel is thought to have escaped from the Wildwood Trust in Herne Common during Storm Ciara last weekend. It was not seen for a number of days, before being found 10 miles away at the garden centre, tucking in to seeds.
Garden centre worker Tyla May said: “I was amazed. I’ve never seen one before. It was a nice sight because it’s a very beautiful animal.
“We’ve got bird feeders at the top of the nursery, that’s where I’ve seen it a few times. It’s also been seen near woodlands and running around in and out of pots.”
The squirrel has remained at the Faversham garden centre for the last three days.
After being told that the animal could have been from Wildwood, members of staff contacted the wildlife sanctuary.
“It escaped from Wildwood,” 19-year-old Tyla continued. “We’ve been in touch with them and they’ve put about six traps out to try to get him back.”
Bosses from Wildwood believe the squirrel could have escaped after high winds blew open the doors to its woodland enclosure.
The reserve’s director Peter Smith says the animal must have taken a relatively safe route through Blean Woods in order to get to the Courtenay Road garden centre.
“Our keepers have been setting traps to try to get the little fellow back,” he said.
“The enclosure’s got a big fence around it and we’ve been redoubling efforts to make sure it’s fully squirrel-proof. We’ve counted all our other squirrels.
“The woods allowed the squirrel to move so freely and safely – it hasn’t had to cross any farms or anything like that.”
The once-abundant creature has been extinct in Kent since the 1960s, according to Wildwood, and is now vastly outnumbered nationwide by the invasive grey squirrel.
The trust is urging anyone who sees the squirrel to call it on 01227 712111.
More by this authorJack Dyson