Edible dormice are wreaking havoc across the nation after their numbers doubled in just 10 years.
More than 100,000 are believed to be running wild in Britain – and many are abandoning their usual woodland habitats for a taste of urban life.
A record 145 dormice were removed from a house in London.
Other 8in-long, bushy-tailed critters wrecked a collection of classic cars by gnawing cables and wires.
The normally shy creatures – twice the size of plain dormice – were mainly found in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. But they have now spread to Bedfordshire, Essex, London, Berkshire and Oxford.
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The animals, also called glis glis, hibernate from November to May and are a protected species.
Only licensed pest controllers are allowed to deal with them. Paul Bates, of Cleankill, called the latest sightings “quite concerning”.
He said: “When they wake, it is usually them running around in the loft space or ceiling cavities that alerts homeowners. It is not unusual to find them in airing cupboards, store rooms or kitchens, searching for food.
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“Unfortunately, as creatures of habit, they often infest the same properties year after year.”
More than 200 of the creatures have been culled so far this year – more than the total for all of 2020.
The edible dormice – a roasted delicacy in Roman times – first ran wild in the UK after six escaped from zoologist Lionel Walter Rothschild’s private collection in Tring, Herts, in 1902.