Animal rights group RSPCA has issued a warning to Londoners after taking part in four separate incidents of fox cubs becoming stuck in old, discarded car wheels in just one month. The charity is now urging anyone who has old wheels to keep them safe and inspect them regularly to prevent further incidents.
The charity explained that in cases where foxes are caught in wheels, they typically poke their heads through the hole in the center while searching for food, then get stuck when their wide ears prevent them from popping their heads back pull out.
In the first rescue, Rodney Kenny, an RSPCA animal welfare officer, rescued a fox from a car wheel in Orpington on April 22. Just a few weeks later, Nick Jonas, another animal rescue officer, was called to an incident in a garden in Newham, east London on May 5.
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Less than a week later, Mr Jonas was called again to another incident involving a young animal stuck in a wheel at a garage in Bethnal Green, also in east London, on May 10. He said both foxes were taken to South Essex Wildlife Hospital to be rehabilitated before they can be released back into the wild.
Elsewhere, animal welfare officer Lee Rickets worked with London Fire Brigade to free another fourth cub in Haringey.
Mr Jonas said: “Young foxes are incredibly inquisitive and we are often called on to deal with foxes that have gotten into trouble. But in my experience, it’s quite unusual to have four “head stuck in a wheel” incidents in just one month.
“They stick their heads through the center hole of a wheel, perhaps in search of food, but then find to their dismay that their ears are preventing them from going backwards.
“There is no time to lose in situations like this. They may have been trapped without food or water for several days, so they need to be freed as soon as possible. It’s a bit of a trick releasing fox cubs when they get their head caught, because their ears are the problem.
“In both of the recent incidents I attended, I found that if I carefully guided the little foxes’ ears back through the hole one at a time, it was easy to free the animals. We ask the public to be extra vigilant when storing bikes on their premises. Please keep these items safe and check them regularly in case another fox cub sets a trap for itself.”
The RSPCA said if anyone finds a wild animal they are warned not to try to rescue it. They said: “Wild animals may scratch, kick and bite when frightened, especially when injured, so you could risk injuring yourself and the animal.
“Many animals that become trapped or entangled can be injured more seriously than you think, so it’s best to examine them thoroughly to determine if they need treatment.”
To report a concern about an animal you can contact the RSPCA emergency number on 0300 1234 999.
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