The RSPCA is appealing for information after a raccoon dog was injured by a trap in Derbyshire.
The animal welfare charity was contacted on Monday evening by a concerned member of the public who saw the wild animal with the trap on its front right leg in Moorfield, Glossop - believing it to be a badger.
When RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer David Hatton arrived, he was surprised to find that the animal wasn’t a badger but a raccoon dog - thought to have been kept as an exotic pet which was either abandoned or escaped.
David took the animal to the charity’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital, where the trap was removed under sedation.
He said: “I was expecting to see a badger, but what I found instead was a raccoon dog, clearly in pain and covered in ticks. I managed to catch her safely and transport her for veterinary treatment.
“The vet believed that the poor animal could have had the trap on her for a few days and that she may have been out in the wild for quite some time.
“Thankfully the trap had not broken any bones or seriously injured the raccoon dog, who is recovering from her ordeal in the RSPCA’s care.
“It is concerning that a spring trap like this was left out in the open and very sadly injured an animal in this horrific way. We are urging anyone who has any information to contact us in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018.”
The raccoon is being cared for at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire.
Manager Lee Stewart said: “Her wounds were treated again upon her arrival and she is now resting up in our isolation unit. She is far more alert, even after a couple of hours in care so we’re hopeful that she will make a good recovery. We shall be monitoring her progress closely over the coming days.”
Raccoon dogs are native to Japan, Korea, northern Vietnam, northern China and eastern Siberia. They are generally forest-dwelling animals and are most active at night.
Llewelyn Lowen, wildlife information officer for the RSPCA, said that it is likely the raccoon dog was once kept as an exotic pet.
He said: “It is illegal to release these unusual animals to the wild in the UK as they are a non-native species and can be invasive and can do serious damage to the environment.
“We are becoming increasingly concerned about the trend of keeping raccoon dogs as pets in the UK as we have in recent years dealt with a number of cases where the animals have either escaped, or been deliberately released to the wild.
“Sadly they appear to be growing in popularity as pets, possibly due to their appealing looks and the misinformed view that they are less difficult to look after than dogs, and are being sold for as little as £150 on internet websites.
“We urge people to think hard about taking on the care of any exotic pet - they can be much more difficult to care for than people realise. We would not recommend they take on the care of raccoon dogs at all as they are simply not suited to a domestic environment.”