The thing about surprises is that you either love them or you absolutely loathe them. For some people, a good surprise is the best thing in the world! For others, however, they’re essentially guaranteed to induce a panic attack.
An English man named Craig Mcgettrick knew a thing or two about surprises. He was recently cleaning a local garden with a friend when he stumbled upon something he didn’t expect. When they took a closer look and realized these things weren’t what they seemed…
Craig Mcgettrick of Liverpool, England, was recently doing a good deed—picking up trash from a park near his home—along with his friend Beccie. The pair expected to come across some weird odds and ends, of course, but an old, dirty mattress was certainly not one of them!
Craig and Beccie moved in for a closer look. Since they had no idea where the mattress came from—or who had used it—they proceeded with caution. Why would anyone discard their mattress in such a bizarre place?
Craig and Beccie carefully lifted the mattress off of the ground, only to find something lying underneath it. And that something was moving. The pair was in complete disbelief at what they’d found…
There, beneath the old mattress, was a litter of five puppies! Craig and Beccie grew concerned when they realized the mother was nowhere to be found. They decided they were the only ones who could help the abandoned baby animals.
First, Craig and Beccie decided to do something smart: they photographed the puppies so they could post their pictures on Facebook, just in case someone knew what had happened to them. Then, they got to work on bringing them to safety.
Craig and Beccie rounded up the pups and carefully placed them into a single plastic box. Once they were all secured, the pair rushed the puppies to nearby Freshfields Animal Rescue in case they needed treatment.
In the meantime, Craig posted pictures of the dogs online, and the puppies’ photographs began to spread around the Internet. Soon, a number of people were inquiring about them—and a few eagle-eyed web users had some interesting questions…
A number of people realized that these weren’t puppies at all—but possibly baby foxes! Craig and Beccie reached out to Martin Hemmington, the founder of the National Fox Welfare Society, to see if he could help confirm.
“Beccie had sent a few photos asking if the babies in the photos were indeed fox cubs,” Martin later wrote in a Facebook post. So, were they actually baby foxes who had simply been abandoned by their mother?
Martin had the answer: “We confirmed they certainly were. Beccie advised us that they had been taken to a rescue center in Liverpool mistakenly as puppies, not fox cubs.” So they were foxes! Now the big question was: what happened to them? And what should be done?
Paul McDonald, a staff member at Freshfields Animal Rescue, theorized that the fox family had been using the mattress as a makeshift den. In all likelihood, the mother had simply left her kits while she looked for food.
“Vixens leave their cubs all the time whilst they are in the den,” Paul explained. “As they get older, they’ll begin to explore their surroundings more and more, and become less dependent on mum.”
These foxes clearly weren’t old enough to be totally abandoned by their mother just yet, however. Wanting to provide the foxes with the care they desperately needed, Martin asked Paul to see if he could help.
Paul dispatched an unnamed volunteer (pictured) to transport the little foxes. Once they arrived in his care, Paul knew exactly what to do: bring them back to the park. But why?
Paul realized he needed to reunite the babies with their mother—and he had a plan to get her back. “I didn’t give the cubs any milk in order for them to be hungry so they’d cry out and call for their mum, which they did,” he recalled.
“I put them around the same place they were found, as I knew the mum would be looking for them,” Paul added. “She’d be checking the place she last had them.” But were the kits gone from their den for too long?
It was worth a shot. Paul placed the cubs in a cardboard box alongside a warm water bottle to keep them cozy. Then, he returned the kits to their spot in the park and proceeded to wait for the mother to show up. Sure enough, within an hour, a fox approached the box…
“I believe once she’d picked the first one up and knew the others were safe in the box, she waited until it got dark to get the rest as she must not have felt safe moving the cubs in daylight,” Paul said. Phew!
The mother returned a while after to take another cub and then proceeded to continue this pattern until she’d removed all five from the box. After that, there was nothing for Paul to do but admire the empty box—the reunion was a success!
“All through this, I was letting Beccie and Craig know, and everyone was so pleased that the cubs were back where they belonged … with mum!” Though their beginnings were rough, hopefully this meant the fox kits would have a bright future as a family!
Thankfully this story had a happy ending because of Beccie and Craig’s thoughtfulness and Paul’s expertise! Hopefully, this fox family will find a more fitting den.
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