Catch them if you can? Meet the exotic pet detectives

Skunks, iguanas, terrapins, big cats… Britain has more invasive and exotic animals than you imagine. Meet the search and rescue enthusiasts dedicated to capturing them and keeping them safe

Sometime in 2016, Chris Mullins received a message about a missing skunk. Mullins, 70, who lives in Leicestershire, had founded a Facebook group, Beastwatch UK, in 2001 as a place to document exotic animal sightings in the British countryside, so it was natural for news of this sort to trickle his way. In that time there had been a piranha in the Thames and a chinchilla in a post box, so a skunk on the loose in a local village seemed a relatively manageable misadventure. He loaded up some traps and headed to Barrow upon Soar to see if he could help locate the wayward creature.

Mullins, who has a white beard, smiling eyes and maintains a steady, gentle rhythm when he speaks, had always nurtured a passion for wildlife – chasing it down, catching it. The interest took hold amid a challenging childhood. Aged five, Mullins was victim of a hit and run that left him with amnesia and he spent two years in hospital before his parents sent him to a special school to catch up with his education.

Continue reading…