Is it a dog, a badger or an old fox?
Well, experts think this may be the first sighting of a Raccoon roaming free on Tyneside.
The furry mammal, usually found in North America, was spotted by a surprised jogger in Wallsend on Friday morning.
Wildlife experts believe it is the first recorded sighting of the wild beast in the area.
Tom Hughes, 22, was running through the grounds of Wallsend Hall at around 7am when something caught his eye.
He said: “I was running along and came across this curious creature.
“At first I thought it was a badger but its unusual facial markings made me think it was a raccoon.
“It was big and stocky, but very placid and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.”
Tom, who lives in Howdon, near Wallsend, is training to be in the Navy.
He said he hasn’t seen anything like this before but hoped to raise some awareness of the creature being out there.
“I wasn’t going to go for my run on Friday morning but I’m glad I did now,” he said.
“The early bird catches the worm, as they say.”
The last recorded sighting of a raccoon was in Sunderland in 2012.
They are considered dangerous with changeable temperaments, but some people are known to keep them as pets.
Following a change to the law in 2007 which removed the need for a licence, they are becoming more prominent in Britain.
Several sightings have also been recorded in County Durham.
Steve Lowe, head of conservation at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust based in Gosforth, Newcastle, said: “That is either a raccoon or a raccoon dog.
“Because we can’t see the feet we can’t be certain which.
“These are non-native animals which appear to be kept as pets. They can be aggressive so inevitably in such circumstances the owner finds them too hard to handle and abandons them.
“They are also extremely good escapologists. Two were recorded in County Durham recently but this is the first for us and not especially welcome. “
“The last record of one was in Sunderland in 2012.
“It may be the same animal although it’s a stretch to say that it definitely is.”
For a recent Racoon sighting in Chopwell, Gateshead, see :
Source – Newcastle Journal, 26 Sept 2014