Wallaby on the run: Ant leaves Dec behind after escaping Lincolnshire farm

Ant the wallaby has been missing for nearly two weeks from his petting farm in Lincolnshire.
Ant the wallaby has been missing for nearly two weeks from his petting farm in Lincolnshire. Credit: Tiny Steps Petting Farm

A wallaby named after Ant McPartlin has proven he is more like Harry Houdini after escaping twice from his worried owners.

Ant went on the run nearly two weeks ago after breaching the fence that keeps him and his friend Dec safely enclosed.

His disappearance has prompted a large-scale search by people living close to his home at Tiny Steps Petting Farm at Thurlby, near Stamford in Lincolnshire.

And there have been plenty of sightings of the marsupial - who often pops into town for a look around, stops at a nearby house to sun himself on the tennis court, and has even had a quick run round a local golf course.

A humane trap was set up and, three days ago, owner Tracey Hall was delighted to find him sitting inside it after he jumped in to grab some food.

Officers from the RSPCA arrived to help get him back to the farm but after carrying the trap a few metres, Ant kicked the door off - bending the metal in two - and hopped away again.

"Sadly it wasn't made for wallabies," explained Justin Stubbs, RSPCA inspector. "There aren't really any traps in Britain made for wallabies and he managed to kick his way out, damaging the trap quite a lot."

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs and petting farm owner Tracey Hall check a trap set up to catch missing wallaby Ant. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The search team has borrowed a new larger, and stronger, trap which has been set up in nearby woodland where Ant has frequently been returning to eat food left for him.

The mischievous mammal can reach speeds of up to 40mph and has even evaded the watchful eye of thermal imaging drones.

Mrs Hall, who set up the petting farm with her husband Dave during lockdown, said Ant "was obviously a Houdini" having somehow outsmarted the secure fence of his enclosure which Dec had shown no signs of escaping.

She has been inundated with phone calls from people reporting sightings of the marsupial or hoping for an update.

"There are so many people desperate to make sure Ant is safe," she said. "They are constantly ringing and texting to ask where he is or to say they have seen him.

"If there's an accident on the road, they have been checking to see if it's been Ant, worried if it was, and relieved when it isn't.

"We caused a lot of enthusiasm and excitement but we have also caused a lot of stress and worry."

The RSPCA has urged people not to chase the wallaby - for fear of stressing him out - and is confident he will be home again soon.

Mr Stubbs, who has worked for the charity for 25 years and has caught two wallabies himself in the past, added: "Wallabies aren't dangerous. But if you get it cornered, it can give you a kick, and if you try to catch it, it can give you a kick.

"I wouldn't recommend it - I have been kicked by one before. It hurts. But for the most part, Ant is going to stay well clear of people. He's really still quite nervous."

Dec the wallaby is missing his friend Ant, who has escaped from their petting zoo in Lincolnshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Meanwhile Dec appears to be coping well - although Mrs Hall admits he is difficult to read.

He has continued to eat and groom himself which is a positive sign, although he is not venturing as far in his enclosure - something he previously enjoyed doing with Ant.

Once the pair are reunited, their owners plan to create a more exciting space for them to explore.

"We're hoping to make a better enclosure, maybe with a wooded area or a grassed area where they can hide a bit more," said Mrs Hall.

"Something more landscaped so they can mimic what Ant is getting while he's out there."