Tommy's stunning catch - a live sturgeon

LOOK what the cat dragged in!An unwelcome exotic invader entered the lives of an Ipswich family leaving them asking: "Has anyone lost a fish?"Tommy the cat returned to his Maryon Road home a carrying a rather unusual animal in his mouth – a sturgeon.

LOOK what the cat dragged in!

An unwelcome exotic invader entered the lives of an Ipswich family leaving them asking: "Has anyone lost a fish?"

Tommy the cat returned to his Maryon Road home a carrying a rather unusual animal in his mouth – a sturgeon.

Owner Colin Green could not believe his eyes when he found the strange creature floundering on his porch on Saturday afternoon.

The 58-year-old said: "It was an ugly looking shark-like thing and I didn't know what to do with it. I don't know where Tommy got it from but it must have come from nearby, as he doesn't travel very far.

"I tried several houses in the area to see if anyone was missing it. Then I thought about taking the fish to one of he ponds in Christchurch Park but people might have objected."

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At about eight inches long the fish proved a handful for the grey cat who likes to catch animals but never kills them.

This prehistoric-looking foreign specimen, which can grow up to five feet in length, is better known for producing caviar in the North American Great Lakes or the Black Sea than sculling around the ponds of Suffolk.

Not having anywhere to keep the fish himself, Colin took the fish to his niece Julie Howes' home, in Rye Close, Ipswich, as she had a pond with no fish in.

Julie, 33, said: "My uncle brought it round in a bucket but within a few hours the fish had killed one of the frogs in my pond and has since scared the rest of them away.

"I hope someone comes and claims it quick as it is not a very pretty fish and we would have some nice gold fish if we wanted any at all, not this ugly thing."

After doing some research on the Internet the family found out that the fish is actually a young lake sturgeon native to North America. This was after a pet shop told Colin that its description sounded like a rudd.

Star angling correspondent, John Easdown, speculated that the fish may have escaped or been set free from a private owner.

He said: "People keep them as exotic pets so this is almost certainly its origin. When they get fed up with them they dump them into ponds and rivers, as they do with terrapins.

"So far as I am aware people who catch a sturgeon are obliged to offer it to the Queen as some sort of folk tradition."

An Ipswich Borough council spokesman said: "We're very glad that the fish borrowed one of the cat's lives and recovered but we don't want people to put any fish into our ponds as this would disrupt the natural habitat."

If anyone knows who the fish belongs to they should contact the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788.

Lake Sturgeon factfile

N The fish are bottom feeding, boney-plated fish which range throughout the great lakes.

N They are olive brown to grey on the back and sides, with a white belly.

N Sturgeons were despised by fisherman because the sharp spikes ripped through their nets.

N By the turn of the century, sturgeon were commonplace and were frequently sold as 'Albany beef'.

N In the 1950's the population declined rapidly due to pollution and overfishing.

N The decline was aided by its slow reproductive cycle, although a female can live for 50 years it matures at 20 and only spawns every four to six years.

N What's the most unusual thing your cat's ever brought home? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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