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Paws for the fox man

The past couple of weeks have been quite possibly the busiest in my history of doing the fox rescue work at Freshfields. In this time I’ve had a total of 8 cubs come in. Aside from the obvious stuff like cleaning out their cages and feeding them all, I’ve been spending evenings trying to reunite them with their families (and unfortunately for me none of them were from the local area, or even Liverpool for that matter!). A few of the cubs have had medical issues that need to be dealt with also, so I’ve been taking them to the vets also. There have literally been days when I’ve been out in the evening trying to reunite cubs back with their mum (unsuccessfully in all cases I’m afraid) and then the morning after I’ve had calls about more cubs that cleneeded to be picked up. It’s been a bit of a juggling act, and as I do most of this particular work on my own. Whilst I have some amazing helpers, I tend to find volunteers are not reachable/available when needed in emergencies plus a lot of the work required is during unsociable hours or requires driving long distances, or in most cases, both! It’s hard to get people who can commit because of this. I am not ashamed to say it’s been a very testing time, especially as one of the 8 cubs recently had to be put to sleep as she was having seizures which the vet believed was down to a neurological issue (as opposed to having ingested a toxin which is what we originally thought). Having not long had to make that call regarding another cub, it was a repeat of an experience I’d rather have not had to go through again so soon.

The good news however is that only 1 of the 8 cubs had to be euthanised and the others, whilst some are suffering medical issues, are doing okay. Two cubs were picked up from Oldham earlier this month (a male and female) – I tried reuniting these 2 nights in a row to no avail by placing them in a box and waiting for mum to show up. A vixen did show up and sniffed around the box for 30 minutes before disappearing. Unfortunately she didn’t make a move and take the cubs so I can only assume she was not the mum and I had to take the cubs in as orphans. A few days later I got a call (the first of many) from Blackpool. A cub was found in a park trying to suckle on a passerbys dog. He had a bit of conjunctivitis in his eyes and so was put on some eye drops and had eyes bathed daily and they have recently cleared up nicely. He was ravenous on arrival and as it turned out had worms. He’s now been fully wormed as all the cubs are that come into the unit. Two days later I got the call about another cub, this time a vixen, from the same park the first cub was found. She is the cub I mentioned earlier, who was having seizures and eventually had to be put to sleep. We tried giving her fluids and antibiotics as she was very dehydrated and flat in between periods of activity but this unfortunately didn’t result in any improvement, resulting in the final decision to save her the only way we could – by letting her go. The same day as the vixen was picked up I had another call from someone in Preston regarding a fox cub with a broken back leg. The leg was x-rayed and it showed the break was only thin and would heal on it’s own over time. I kept him in for a bit of rest and relaxation and it was during this time I noticed something else was wrong – he didn’t seem to be reacting to my movements. I took him to the vets and my suspicions were confirmed – it was caused by blindness as there was no reaction to light in his pupils. Aware that blindness can be temporary, I kept him in and monitored, until another vet checked him over a few days later. Thankfully, pupils are now responding to light and I’m hopeful he will fully regain sight. A couple of days after this one, I got another cub call, this time from Wigan, where a vixen was picked up from a busy road after almost being hit by several cars which were having to swerve to avoid her. The surrounding area had a public park and two farms adjacent. I approached both farms but sadly the owners were not interested and would not allow me to use their land to try to reunite the cub with her family. This did not put me off and I did go to the area in the evening to see if there was any signs of adult foxes, but when I didn’t see any activity I decided to call it a day and soon mixed this vixen with the 2 cubs from Oldham and put them into the outdoor pen.

A day after this, I got another call from Blackpool about a cub (again from the same park as before). A male cub had been handed into a vets after once again trying to suckle on a dog. I picked the cub up immediately and frustratingly, as soon as I got back to the rescue with him, got another call from Blackpool about another cub, again from the same park. I had no choice, and had to make a second trip to Blackpool to pick this one up, this time a vixen, who was suffering from tissue damage on her back leg and also a chest infection. She’s currently on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory. As of now, the 2 from Oldham, the 2 males from Blackpool and the vixen from Wigan are in one of the outdoor pens. The 2 Blackpool males are a bit too tame so I’m hoping the other 3 wild them up as they are a lot more feral! I’ve mixed the male from Preston with the broken leg/blindness and the female from Blackpool (who is incredibly tame and wags her tail at me) in the unit in the hopes that he wilds her up a bit. Things have so far quietened down but I am getting numerous calls from all over the country looking for help with cubs (though I can only point people in the direction of other rescues if they are outside my area). Have even been getting messages from Berlin, America and Spain! I feel that there are still more cubs to come in this year and we’ve just seen the beginning!

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