Dangerous animals in unlikely places

By MSN UK News/PA Rex Features
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Panther loose in Herefordshire

In early July 2010 an escaped panther was accused of savaging a horse being kept inside stables at Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.

The horse's owner, Rachel Baugh, told the Sun: "At first I thought it was a bite from another horse on his back. But when I looked more closely I could see really deep wounds on his rump and his back. I called the vet right away." Patches in the grass nearby suggested a big cat had been lying in wait, preparing to attack.

Big cat sightings occur from time to time across the UK. Danny Bamping, of the British Big Cat Organisation, said: "There have been a couple of cases in West Wales where a similar attack has taken place. Having seen the photos I'm 95 per cent sure the injuries are the result of a big cat attack."

AP Photo/Petar Petrov
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Tarantuala loose in seaside resort

A giant tarantula was spotted roaming the streets of the seaside resort of Seaton Carew in north-east England in May 2008.

Locals were alarmed to see the creature squatting under a bench on the seafront. One passer-by, Lee Mayhew, told the Hartlepool Mail: "It just looked like a big bunch of leaves at first until I got close, but then I could not believe how big it was. I was quite shocked to see it. It's not the sort of thing that you see every day."

A spokesperson from North East Reptile Rescue said that while the spider was not classed as deadly, it could deliver a venomous bite that would cause severe swelling.

Rex Features
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Jellyfish found off Cornwall coast

A warning was issued to beach-goers in south-west England in July 2009 when a poisonous Portugese man o'war washed up on the coast of Cornwall.

"Our main message is that we don't the public to panic but be careful and be aware that they are there," said Tom Hardy, marine conservation officer with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

A Portugese man o'war delivers a sting that can cause a potentially deadly allergic reaction within humans. Warmer summer waters mean they are often found close to the British coast, from where they can be blown on to beaches.

AP Photo/Vern Fisher/Monterey County Herald
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Great White Shark spotted off Cornwall coast

A Great White Shark was apparently spotted off the coast of Cornwall in July 2007, prompting the inevitable fears that holiday-makers could be at risk from a Jaws-style attack.

Another Great White was supposedly sighted off the coast of Devon in August 2003, while fisherman testified to glimpsing the beast off the coast near Padstow in Cornwall in August 1999.

Glimpses of the deadly predator in British waters are infrequent and, due to the distance from which the creature is spotted, usually open to misinterpretation. Great White Sharks are most often found in warm temperate seas.

Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
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Piranha caught in British pond

Derek Plum, 46, found himself tackling more than a trout in June 2010 when he caught a deadly piranha while fishing in a pond in Folkestone, Kent.

The angler told the Sun: "It took about 15 minutes to reel it in. When it emerged, it was thrashing around and was going crazy. The other fishermen were yelling 'You've caught a piranha'. I couldn't believe it."

The 1lb 4oz catch, whose diet consists mainly of fish, insects and worms, was thousands of miles from its common habitat in South America. The Environment Agency said the piranha was probably dumped in the pond by its owner after it became too large for its tank.

Maurice Flynn/National Trust/PA Wire/Press Association Images
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Kamikaze super ants march into UK

In July 2009 kamikaze super ants with a fatal attraction to electricity were discovered marching through one of England's finest National Trust gardens.

It was feared that colonies of lasius neglectus, known as the Asian super ant, could cause a fire risk after being found at the historic Hidcote Manor, near Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire.

It was thought to be the first time the species had been recorded in the UK. The species was first identified in Budapest 20 years ago and looks like a common black garden ant. The ants have been spotted in Germany, Hungary, France, Spain and Poland.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Granny survives deadly spider bite

In January 2009 a 52-year-old grandmother from Cumbria spent 26 hours in an intensive care unit after she suffered a severe allergic reaction to a bite from a venomous spider.

Lyn Mitchell was in bed at her home in Egremont, west Cumbria, when she was bitten by a false widow - or Steatoda Grossa - spider, a purple and black insect that bears a strong resemblance to the deadly black widow (pictured).

When the creature sank its fangs into her chest, Mrs Mitchell suffered a severe allergic reaction that left her gasping for breath. Fortunately, she was able to call for an ambulance before she lost consciousness.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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Killer snake on loose in Kent

A dangerous 6ft pet boa constrictor escaped from its owner's house in Chatham, Kent in August 2008, prompting police to issue a warning to local residents.

People were cautioned not to approach the creature, which was not reported to be poisonous but could kill its prey by squeezing it to death.

Inspector Dave Coleman said: "We have been advised that six foot is not large for a boa constrictor. However people should not touch it or attempt to pick it up by the tail as these snakes do bite."

AP Photo/M.Lakshman
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Crocodile runs amok on plane

Passengers on board an EgyptAir flight from Abu Dhabi to Cairo in July 2009 were more than a little distressed by the sight of a baby crocodile parading around the the plane.

The creature escaped from a piece of hand luggage.

Nobody was willing to claim ownership of the reptile, and it was subsequently donated to Cairo Zoo.

Owen Humphreys/PA Archive
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Snake bites creatures in Llanelli fields

A snake was believed to be responsible for a number of animal bites in and around Llanelli in Carmarthenshire in April 2010.

Thermal imaging equipment was deployed to search for the creature. Its victims included two dogs, one of whom died while the other had to have its leg amputated. A horse was bitten on its back in fields at Furnace near Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

Local snake expert Geraint Hopkins told the BBC: "People should be vigilant if they are walking their dog. If they do see it they should call the authorities straight away. That will give us the best chance of catching it."