STINGING walking catfish have been discovered in a Bolton river and people are being warned not to touch them.

A number of Clarias Catfish, also known as walking catfish, were recovered from Tonge River by the Environment Agency last week after a woman was stung by one when she was fishing near Radcliffe Road in Darcy Lever.

The fish have spines that can penetrate the skin and they can also 'walk'.

They use their front pectoral fins to move between different bodies of water on land, in almost a walking fashion and can survive out of water for upwards of 30 minutes.

The fish use this to spread their range and find suitable food and environments.

Gaynor Greene, aged 33, was fishing on Thursday when she encountered a large number of the fish and when she touched it was caught by one of its spines.

She said that it was only a light sting but did leave a tingling sensation and that it would definitely hurt a child.

Ms Greene said: "My stepson said he had seen a catfish on the river on Tuesday.

"When we were there they stung me on the finger. It was quite a shock getting stung by a fish. I had never seen anything like it, I had no idea where they had come from."

While fishing with maggots, Ms Greene noticed the catfish were not taking the bait and found it unusual.

The species eats smaller fish, molluscs and other invertebrates, as well as detritus and aquatic weeds.

Ian Wood from the Environment Agency fisheries team attended and recovered the fish from the river after being called by Ms Greene.

He said that the fish are native to Africa and should not have been in the river. Mr Wood urged anyone that spots them to report it and not to touch them.

Ms Greene, from Darcy Lever, echoed the calls, she said: "I would warn anyone not to go near them. My stepson was in the river and he was trying to catch them with his hands. He said he wasn't stung, so he was lucky. It would really hurt a child."

To report a sighting of the fish, call the Environment Agency emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.