A farmer who killed an animal attacking his chickens discovered it was his neighbour’s escaped pet ferret.

The man was rearing about 55 chickens in Oak Close, Calne, and entered his shed to find them in a flurry of feathers, ripped apart by an animal which still had one hanging from its mouth.

He picked up a piece of wood and hit it, only afterwards realising it was a ferret that had escaped from its outside cage.

When he told his neighbour she reported it as criminal damage on April 13. But this week police decided not to take any further action.

Chippenham Sergeant Phil Connor said: “There was a small gap under the shed door and the ferret picked up the scent of the chickens and ate as many as it could.

“While we accept that both owners are quite clearly distressed, we are not treating it as a criminal offence as at the time there was no control over the ferret and the man who hit it with a stick didn’t know it belonged to anyone.”