A theme park has been forced to ban a daredevil squirrel from one of its rides as its antics posed a health and safety risk.

The rodent was said to be causing headaches for operators at Alton Towers by getting in the way of improvement work on an attraction at the resort.

Workers noticed it riding the revamped Sonic Spinball roller coaster as it was tested in the mornings and joining visitors who were offered an early go on it before the official opening.

The grey squirrel was also caught stealing food from the workers.

A spokeswoman for the Staffordshire theme park said: “It was getting in the way of builders who were painting.

“They couldn’t carry on because they would end up with paw prints in the paint.

“And we can’t have anything on the track when the roller coaster is going round.”

Alarms were installed that emit a warning noise inaudible to human ears but designed to ensure the squirrel, nicknamed Sonic, avoids the ride in future.

Morwenna Angove, sales and marketing director at the Alton Towers resort, said: “Unfortunately Sonic’s behaviour is a danger both to our guests and himself and so we’re doing all we can to ensure that he stays away from the ride.

“Banning a squirrel from a roller coaster is certainly unusual but I suppose there’s a first time for everything.”

The Sonic Spinball ride officially opened to the public on Saturday to coincide with the start of the February half term.