THE appearance of a beaver at a farm in Roborough last week has had animal experts baffled to its origin and is certainly a mystery to get their teeth into.

The furry rodent was found in a dishevelled condition under a tractor by a farmer, who contacted Dartmoor Zoo in Sparkwell.

It was thought the male beaver was the same one which had escaped, along with three females, in 2008 from a beaver sanctuary in Lifton. However, experts believe it is not the same one as it is too young and much smaller than the original 'escapee'.

George Hyde, operations director for Dartmoor Zoo, said that when a RSPCA officer went to investigate the rodent it scurried from safety underneath the tractor to a nearby slurry pit. After a bit of a struggle, and not without the officer wading through mire and covered in slurry, the beaver was captured and taken to the zoo.

Mr Hyde told the Times: 'It was in a very messy state, agitated and he growled like a dog. We don't have beaver in our collection as they are strong and versatile animals which are difficult to confine - they need to be in a steel and concrete setting because otherwise they just gnaw their way through anything.

'We don't believe it is the same male beaver that escaped a few years ago from Lifton as that one was about 35 kilos and this was about 15 or 20 kilos at the most.

'Also, the fact that it was found in a farmyard in Roborough, which is not their natural habitat, suggests to me that its a young male looking for new territory and perhaps its mum and dad are not far away.

'It's certainly a bit of a mystery where this beaver comes from.'

The beaver has not been part of the indiginous animal population in 400 years but there is a project in Scotland to see if they can successfully be reintroduced into the wild. There are concerns that its re-introduction could be detrimental to tree life and fish stocks. There is a smaller, similar project with two beaver in a secret location in North Devon.

Three years ago a trial was considered to introduce beavers to Roadford Lake to improve the water quality, but this was dismissed because of concerns over possible damage to trees in the area.