The final section of this four part article is on the topic of animals seen in the U.K. that shouldn’t really be anywhere in the U.K. I’ll begin with the huge numbers of wallabies that call the U.K. their home. Yes, really! There are numerous numbers. People often see them, photograph and film them. On top of that, I have several unverified reports of people seeing wallabies at Loch Ness. As strange as that might seem to many people, there is actually quite a plausible explanation for this. Indeed, wallabies are known to have escaped from England-based private enclosures over the years (and decades) and which live very nicely in the wilds of the countryside. Here’s one example and here’s another one of wallabies gone wild in England. Such accounts surface quite often.
As for Scotland, well…definitely none fully confirmed for sure at Loch Ness, but there is this from The Scotsman: “There are, in fact, other places where the marsupials can be found, including right here in Scotland. Inchconnachan, an island in Loch Lomond, is host to the red-necked species of wallaby and was brought there by Lady Arran Colquhoun in the 1940s. Their presence on the island has been the source of some debate. There are those who claim that wallabies on the island threaten the capercaillie – also known as wood grouse – population, while others are skeptical of this given that the two species have co-habited on the island for over 60 years now.”
Back in 1998, I interviewed a woman who had an unusual encounter near the Staffordshire, England village of Alrewas, located not far from where I was living at the time. It was the summer of 1992 when the encounter went down, and the woman – a resident of Brighton, England – was visiting friends in the area. On one particular morning, and while taking a stroll around the village, the woman was stopped in her tracks by the sight of what she recalled describing to her friends as “two fat guinea-pigs running up the road.” Indeed, she told me, they were “giant” in size. In fact, such was their incredible size, she was unable to believe that such immense guinea-pigs could even exist. It turns out that the animals were not guinea-pigs, after all. They were, in reality, coypus; which are hardly native to the UK, to say the least! Nevertheless, none other than Dr. Karl Shuker had a Coypu sighting in the U.K. a handful years ago.
Coypus were brought to the UK – specifically East Anglia – from Argentina in 1929. It was their fur that counted. A decade or so later, numerous coypus escaped from the Carill-Worsley Farm, East Anglia, on what was the proverbial dark and stormy night. It practically ensured the near-inevitable establishment of a wild population of the creatures all across the region. Certainly, by 1961 it was estimated that coypus had turned around 40,000 acres of Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk land into their very own stomping grounds. Today, there are very few left; although an occasional story will surface.
Now, it’s on to the porcupine. Stories of porcupines in the UK are not exactly common. They do, however, surface from time to time. In 2005, for example a porcupine was seen in the Forest of Dean. There was no mystery about this, however: the porcupine had escaped from a farm at Elwood, near Coleford. The lucky little animal (who was given the name of “Spike” LOL) was given a new home at a zoo in the north of England. In Staffordshire, England – where I grew up – there is a story of a pair of porcupines that got loose from a local, homemade “zoo.” They were never caught, but the likelihood is that the animals lived quite happily in the dense woods that would have provided a wealth of food.