A squirrel sparked panic on Monday after it dashed into a busy leisure centre before leaping in the pool and biting a swimmer on the finger. The rodent had somehow gained access to the public pool at the Riviera Centre in Torquay, Devon, and was trying to escape the clutches of lifeguards with nets when it took the plunge.
Amid screams, shouts and some squealing, the desperate animal paddled around in circles while swimmers scattered to the pool edge.
When one member of the public waded over to rescue the frightened creature, grabbing its tail and tossing it to safety, it bit him on the finger.
The squirrel then scampered to safety through an open door, invigorated but seemingly unharmed by its experience.
Jacquie Lovett, swimming instructor at the Waves Leisure Pool said: “I came in to do a lesson and was told by the lifeguards that there was a squirrel on top of the wave chamber.
The squirrel then decided to run out. One of the lifeguards tried to chase it out and it went into the curtain. Then it jumped into the swimming pool.”
About 20 members of the paying public scattered while the squirrel proved itself an adept swimmer.
“It was doing a few strokes, going under the water and then coming up for air,” said Jacquie.
“It was in the deep end.
There were two lifeguards on one side and me on the other side thinking we have got to go in and save it.
I would say it was in there for a maximum of about a minute.”
Staff warned members of the public not to approach the squirrel but one brave swimmer swam over and lobbed it to safety. His finger wound was not serious.
“It looked like a drowned rat,” said Jacquie.
“Then it ran out through a door we had opened.”