SPARSHOLT’S extensive exotic animal collection has added a new set to the pack.

Five raccoon dogs have joined 1,200 animals from 200 different species at the college.

After being rescued by the RSPCA they were re-homed in a newly-built enclosure within the animal management centre.

For six months, students worked hard to prepare the enclosure to make sure it was an appropriate environment for the species with plenty of dens, planting and thickets.

The species will be useful in teaching students the issues around the exotic pet trade and invasive species.

Head of exotics at Sparsholt College, Gary Clarke said: “We are very pleased to provide a new home for these ex-pet raccoon dogs as part of the animal collection we maintain here for teaching and training.”

Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA senior scientific officer in exotics and wildlife trade, added: "These raccoon dogs were all rescued by our officers as strays and we suspect they'd once been kept as pets before being abandoning or escaping from their homes.”