Tourists are being warned not to fall for the charms of the French chipmunk and attempt to smuggle the animals into Britain.
Scores of the cuddly looking creatures have started appearing in Paris parks but many carry a tick that could cause potentially fatal Lyme disease.
Despite protests, the animals are also on sale in French pet shops priced just £10.
‘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. This is just the type of behaviour which will lead to the chipmunk getting to Britain in huge numbers, possibly as early as this summer.’
Siberian chipmunks were first imported from Asia in the 1970s and are now on the EU’s list of the 100 most invasive species.