An ecstatic pet owner has been reunited with his rare exotic animal after it was found huddled up in a spare tyre by workers at a car depot.
Kamarla, the Spotted Genet, went missing for nearly three weeks after escaping out of a window from his home in Portslade, Brighton.
But surprised staff at a Mercedes Benz depot in Milton Keynes, Bucks., – over 120 miles away – discovered the animal curled up in a spare tyre on Monday.
A Genet is a small slender cat-like animal with a long body, a long ringed tail, large ears, a pointed muzzle and partly retractile claws.
On Tuesday Kamarla was reunited with owner Kyle Watson, 30, who had hand reared the exotic animal from when it was just three days old.
“He has never wandered off far before, and it’s been so cold out I just believed that would be it.
“When we brought him home on Tuesday it was really emotional, the kids were quite upset because we thought he’d never be back home.
“He came out of the carrier, ate a load of food and he just curled up and were straight to sleep.”
The builder, and snake breeder, had bought the pet from a private breeder for £750 when it was abandoned by its mother.
Kyle said the animal, which likes the odd sugary snack such as a doughnut, had become “one of the family” after he claims it imprinted on him.
It will snuggle up with the family for hugs and even dips his head into the children’s cereal to steal their Lucky Charms.
The animal freely roams around the house with the family’s pet dog, cat, snakes and two mice.
But Kamarla, who’s nearly two-years-old, strayed out of his house through an open window and failed to return before being found 18 days later.
Kyle spotted a Facebook plea where Vets4Pets in Milton Keynes, Bucks., asked for help locating the owners after the animal was handed over to them.
The pet was micro-chipped, but the chip had migrated to the animal’s tail, which meant at first vets thought it had no identification – until Kyle asked them to check again.
The father-of-six said: “I bottle fed him from when he was three days old so I recognised him instantly when I saw the picture online.
“A woman I didn’t know posted the picture on an exotic animal Facebook page I am a member of and I couldn’t believe it.
“I later found out that if his owners weren’t found, he would have been handed over to the RSPCA and put in quarantine as they weren’t sure if he had come from abroad.
“He’s had free roam of my house since he was a baby, he runs around with the dog and jumps on the kid’s shoulders, so it would have been devastating to not find him.”
She said: “We are all at a loss as to how the animal arrived in a depot 120 miles away almost three weeks after disappearing.
“The owners were very emotional and highly delighted to have found their pet.
“We put the photo on Facebook for our clients to share and appreciate the beauty of this unusual animal.
“We had lots of enquiries but one person was very persistent. They were sure it was their much-loved pet.”
The Spotted Genet, which feasts on locusts, meal worms and waxworms, ate a haul of food when it returned home on Tuesday before having a well deserved nap.