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Three orphaned fox cubs rescued from den

20/04/2011 19:12:29

Mother had been dead for two days

April 2011: Volunteer rescuers have spent nearly four-and-a-half hours trying to rescue three fox cubs in East Sussex.
After finding two stranded cubs and a dead vixen, a horse rider called the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS), concerned about the cubs' welfare. WRAS checked the dead fox, which was probably a road casualty, to find it was a lactating vixen that had been dead for up to 48 hours.

IN SAFE HANDS: The rescue service will now look
after the cubs until they are strong enough to be
released back into the wild.

Rescuers could hear the cubs calling underground in a den at the side of the road. ‘It was a difficult and frustrating rescue,' said WRAS founder and rescuer Trevor Weeks, ‘The bank at the side of the road was steep and we kept slipping, the entrance tunnel also turned 90 degrees to where the cubs were, making it difficult to reach them.

Cubs were round a corner, out of reach
‘We used our camera to take photos so we could establish where they were and the layout of the tunnel as we couldn't see round the corner of the tunnel. We also found two dead cubs in the tunnel. We had no choice but to use a spade to widen the entrance hole so we could get closer to them and reach round the corner.'

Alan Knight from International Animal Rescue was also on hand to give vital life-saving fluids to help save the cubs. Trevor was able to widen the hole wide enough for a rescuer to fit inside so she could reach round the bend to get to the cubs. She was able to reach the first but the others moved further down the tunnel, making it impossible to get to them, so volunteers had to back off.

The first cub was taken away for immediate care as volunteers worked hard to rescue the remaining cubs, which had begun to move closer to the entrance again.

‘The dead ones had clearly starved - they had not eaten anything for a while before dying,' said Trevor.

‘I think one cub thought I was mum returning'

DOWN SHE GOES... Volunteer Kathy Martyn
disappears down the fox's tunnels to rescue the
WRAS rescuer Kathy Martyn said: ‘As I squeezed into the hole one of the cubs came towards me, I think she thought I was mum returning. Despite the lack of space and lack of room to move easily I was able to grab cub number two. However, I was so far in the hole Trevor had to help by pulling my legs to get me out!'

To the rescuers surprise they noticed that there was a third cub, and after further contortions by Kathy she managed to scruff it. By now it was 9.30pm and pitch black.

‘This was an amazing rescue, which we really thought was going to end badly,' said Trevor. ‘The orphans were all dehydrated, underweight and starving hungry. There is no way they would have lasted another 24 hours, and they would have died a horrible slow death. The three cubs are now being well looked after and we are hopeful they will all make a full recovery and eventually be released back into the wild.'


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