THEY might have expected to find a stray dog or cat wandering the streets of Southampton in the dead of night.

But when police were called out in the small hours to one of the busiest roads in to the city, they were confronted with a scene more in keeping with the New Forest.

They arrived in Bursledon Road in Bitterne to find a tiny Shetland pony grazing next to a lay-by.

The mystery nag had no identification and seemed totally unfazed by its urban surroundings.

Now an appeal has gone out to find the owner of the skewbald two-year-old, who has been named Piglet because of its apparent love of eating.

PC Andy Gamblin, who helped rescue the animal, said: “We have absolutely no idea where it came from.

“We do find horses that have escaped from time to time, but not in built-up areas like Southampton.

“It is very unusual, but I think it’s even more unusual that nobody has come forward to claim it.”

Piglet was first spotted munching grass in Coates Road, near the BP garage on Bursledon Road at around 4am.

But when police arrived, the metre-tall pony had trotted closer to the Bitterne end of the road and was settling down to a second meal.

She is now being looked after in a field near Hamble – and has already shown a telling ability to escape.

PC Gamblin, who works in Hampshire Constabulary’s Dog Support Unit, added: “She can be a bit of a Houdini and likes to escape, having already managed to slip through two electric fences and some barbed wire.

“But she has not been fazed by it at all though.

“I would say to the person who owns it, please come forward and get your lovely little pony.”

The owner of the pony should contact PC Gamblin on 0845 0454545.