Thursday, November 15, 2007

Swimming Red Squirrel

Tourists on board a pleasure boat in the Lake District could not believe their eyes when they spotted a red squirrel in the middle of Ullswater. The mammals can swim, but they find it very strenuous, and have been known to drown in water troughs.

But this determined squirrel had swum 300 yards (274m) - or about the length of six swimming pools - from the shore.

Passengers lowered a rope to the mammal and it climbed on board and hitched a lift back to shore.

Robert Benson, chairman of the Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group, said: "I've been involved with the conservation of red squirrels for 15 years and I know they can swim, but I have never seen it.

"This squirrel was swimming strongly and had its tail coiled on its back so it didn't look bedraggled or as if it was struggling. I've never seen anything like it before."

Once ashore the squirrel ran along a fence and disappeared, apparently none the worse for its dip.