Posted by wolfhound at 7/24/2009 4:13 PM EDT
With tourist season in full swing, Britain is set for an invasion by thousands of diseased chipmunks coming from France, experts tell Sky News.
The animals are known carriers of ticks which cause Lyme disease, and can also pass on rabies and leprosy.
Warnings about the chipmunks potentially coming to Britain were issued after hundreds of thousands of them were found living in Paris, some in pricey apartments.
The "Siberian Chipmunks" have been appearing more and more around tourist spots in the French capital following a summer of good weather and an abundance of all those tasty hazelnut crepes made with Nutella.
Nature experts fear tourists will pick up the animals and put them in their bags or car trunks, nd bring them across the Channel to Britain. OR MAYBE EVEN IRELAND.
The chipmunks are also being sold for under £10 in French pet shops, despite warnings about the potential risks of keeping them.
Jean Louis Chapuis, a French person, stressed it is dangerous to sell deadly chipmunks as pets.
"Lyme disease is a terrible condition, and the chipmunks are a major carrier. These rodents are not shy, and in fact very approachable. Indeed, they can be quite affectionate. With the moon in the sky and a glass of red wine, the night can even become a journey of love," he said.
The "Siberian Chipmunks" are thought to have spread across Belgium (another France-like country) and France (ditto) after 17 were released at an amusement park in Brussels in 1980. That turns out to have been a mistake.
An estimated 21,000,000 are now living in northern France.
French person Guy Bruel said: "There is a particular problem in the woods around Paris, attributed mainly to people who have bought the animals as family pets and then got rid of them. Or, in come cases, the otherway around."