Dog raises nine orphaned ducklings 'after mother duck killed by fox'

Nicola Irwin

Fred the Labrador has a new job – mothering nine orphaned yellow ducklings.

The 10-year-old dog has taken to his new role like a duck to water after the youngsters' mother was likely eaten by a fox.

The unusual family live at Mountfitchet Castle in Essex, home to a model Norman village. Staff noticed the ducklings were alone on Thursday and worried what might happen to them, before Fred stepped in.

The Goldsmith family, who own the attraction, are keen on helping rescue animals and said it was just like Fred to "play mum".

When Fred goes swimming, the ducklings follow his lead and get in the water too.

"He goes swimming in the moat," explained owner Jeremy Goldsmith. "Ducklings that age, they just want a mother and they now have Fred, a stay-at-home dad."

When Fred goes swimming, the ducklings follow his lead (PA)

It is not the first time Fred has bonded with a rescue animal.

Last year, Jeremy and his wife took in an injured squirrel which they found at the side of the road and nicknamed Fleabag.

He spent six months living in the family kitchen, often with Fred at his side.

Press Association