This Europe: Hardy swimmers share ice-hole with wily rodent
Saturday 08 February 2003
Winter swimmers in the Aland Islands between Finland and Sweden have been putting up with more than the cold recently.
The Baltic Sea has frozen over, and an ice-hole kept open for swimmers in the Lilla Holmen Park in the islands' capital, Mariehamn, has been taken over by a large and fearless muskrat.
"With 40cm of ice on the bay, it's hard for animals and birds to find open water," said Maria Bjorke, who swims twice a week – even when air temperatures fall to minus 20C. "We have a heated changing room, and the town council keeps the ice-hole open." About 150 people use the facility.
The muskrat has built a nest under the steps leading into the ice-hole. Though he dives when swimmers approach, he is liable to pop up at any moment – giving bathers a nasty shock. When he charged at one elderly female swimmer, the council decided enough was enough. A trap was set, but the wily creature has proved elusive.
Muskrats, which are herbivorous, can grow up to 2ft long. "We've had to share our ice-hole with ducks as well, but no one minds about them," Ms Bjorke said.
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Scottish independence: Despite defeat history may still point to Alex Salmond as the victor
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish referendum: Police struggle to control Unionist rally in Glasgow's George Square
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...