City dwelleres in Scotland, well used to the habits of foxes, have been warned to look out for a more vicious urban scavenger – the mink.
An attack on a rabbit at a children's pet farm in the centre of Edinburgh has fuelled fears that mink, once confined to the countryside, are working their way into urban areas using canals and inland waterways.
They are thought to be preying on fish, ducklings and signets. The fear is that they might even pose a risk of injury to humans.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has launched a campaign to monitor sightings of the animals after one was killed close to Gorgie City Farm in the West End of Edinburgh.
Last week there were other sightings in residential parts of the city. "We are hoping we don't have an urban mink problem because they are voracious killers," said Doreen Graham, an SSPCA spokeswoman. "From time to time we get reports of mink attacks but they tend to be more of an agricultural nature, with attacks on hens or ducks. This is the first time we have seen it in a city location and we hope it will be a rare occurrence.
"So far in the last few days we have had reports of sightings at Gorebridge and Roseburn Park, both residential areas of Edinburgh, and one at Maryhill in Glasgow."
Mink are usually brown, about 50cm (20in) long, with a bushy tail. They are not indigenous to Britain but began to thrive in the wild after a series of escapes from mink farms in the 1960s and 1970s .
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