The Battersea Park squirrel responsible for hospitalising One Direction star Niall Horan last week has found an unlikely ally - in Simon Cowell.

The Irish warbler has been limping around on crutches since he tore his knee ligaments as he tried to escape the 1kg terror.

The 19-year-old required surgery after the incident but had recovered sufficiently to appear on last Sunday night's X Factor, the show which catapulted the quintet to stardom two years ago.

During a radio interview, millionaire Horan described the terror-inducing rodent as "dangerous", a description rubbished by Mr Cowell... not the luxury yacht-loving media mogul, but the founder of Wildlife Aid Foundation.

Wildlife expert Mr Cowell MBE, said: "Squirrels are naturally alert and timid creatures. They are not used to humans.

"I suspect this squirrel had been captured because a completely wild one would not approach humans.

"However it is an offence to release a squirrel back into the wild once captured unless you have a special licence.

"They have been known to turn aggressive even after they have been bottle-fed as they don't like to be held."

Speaking of his torment on Capital FM Horan said: "A squirrel attacked me. I got attacked by a squirrel in Battersea Park. They're dangerous. It's rare.

"I've torn most of the ligaments in my knee. So no football for me, it's early retirement now. I've got a floating knee-cap."

The boy band's army of female teenage fans will have been shocked to learn that their hero was roughed-up by such a small and timid opponent, and comes in stark contrast to the actions of Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne who famously bit the head off a bat on stage in the 1970s.

In other squirrel news...

Battersea Park Children's Zoo have decided to improve the living conditions of their four-legged nutlovers.

The zoo have joined forces with a nearby estate agents who have invested £1,000 to refurbish the pens used by Prevost’s squirrels, also known as the Oriental or Beautiful squirrel.

In 2004, in the German town of Passau, a squirrel went on an alleged violent rampage when it attacked three people, including a young mum and a builder, before it was eventually beaten to death by a pensioner armed with a crutch.

Packs of black squirrels, found mainly in Russia and Eastern Europe, have been known to attack and kill large dogs.