Rescuers from the Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) veterinary hospital in Leatherhead, Surrey, are used to being called out at all hours of the day and night to tackle wildlife emergencies - and road traffic accidents involving wild animals are among the most common. So, when the charity's rescue team was dispatched to an RTA in nearby Byfleet on Saturday night the last thing they were expecting was to end up delivering the first fox cubs of 2015 - and the first multiple fox cub birth by caesarian section!
Called out to deal with a female fox lying in the road, WAF's senior veterinary nurse Lucy Kells and wildlife rescuer Sean found the animal in a very bad state, with serious head injuries. Says Lucy: "There were seven people standing around the fox in a circle, taking care of her until we arrived. We rushed her back to our veterinary hospital in Leatherhead but she was in a very bad way and she had several fits en-route."
As it turned out, she was also heavily pregnant. "Once we got her back to the WAF hospital," says Lucy, "she had another severe fit and had to be sedated so that she could be properly examined. It was then we discovered she was carrying six babies. One of these was very close to the birth canal, and the birth was imminent. The mother was our patient and we had to treat her as the priority, so we stabilized her on a drip and monitored her for the next 24 hours. She had a good night and was very strong in the morning, to the point we were happy to release her that night, which is what we were hoping for, as we only intervene when absolutely necessary; the best outcome would have been to get Mum back out into the wild and let nature take its course, and let her give birth naturally. Sadly, though, throughout the day she deteriorated and went on to have another massive fit at 3 a.m.