Trapped squirrels and a lizard in a bra: the RSPCA’s weirdest 2021 rescues

·3-min read
Trapped squirrels and a lizard in a bra: the RSPCA’s weirdest 2021 rescues

Squirrels stuck in bird feeders and a lizard that travelled thousands of miles in a bra are among the most bizarre rescue operations the RSPCA has tackled this year.

The UK animal charity said it responded to around 281,390 incidents in 2021 via its emergency rescue hotline, but revealed that some rescues were stranger than others.

In Ashford, Kent a well-fed squirrel was caught red-pawed in August after getting stuck inside a bird feeder.

The “cheeky” squirrel was not injured and even chomped on stray peanuts as rescuer Claire Thomas worked to free him.

Even celebrities had reason to call the hotline this year as Coronation Street star Harry Visinoni found out when he had an unwelcome visitor at his home in Hale, Greater Manchester.

A grey squirrel got stuck in a bird feeder in Ashford, Kent (PA)
A grey squirrel got stuck in a bird feeder in Ashford, Kent (PA)

The actor, who plays Seb Franklin in the soap, called the RSPCA in January after a snake slithered out of his toilet and spent the night hiding in his bathroom.

Two days later, an elderly woman had a lucky escape after a swan crash-landed through a double-glazed window of her bathroom in Barton in Fabis, Nottinghamshire.

After finding the bloodied bird dazed and confused on her bathroom floor, the woman called the RSPCA, which got the swan into surgery before transferring it to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire.

In February a pair of badgers needed rescuing after getting trapped on a ladder that leads down into Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Cwmbran, Wales.

A badger had to be freed using special power tools after getting stuck in a two-foot compost bin in Guildford, Surrey (PA)
A badger had to be freed using special power tools after getting stuck in a two-foot compost bin in Guildford, Surrey (PA)

RSPCA animal rescuers Sian Burton and David Milborrow worked with fire crews to abseil down the canal wall and grab the badgers, with nets below as precautions in case they fell.

“Without doubt, this was the most bizarre and unusual day of my 15 years spent on the frontline for animals,” said Ms Burton.

A badger in Guildford, Surrey, had to be freed using special power tools after getting stuck in a two-foot compost bin while scavenging for food in November.

Meanwhile, a motorist in Plymouth had a surprise in July after discovering a large Tegu lizard manoeuvring under their car’s engine.

Rescuers patiently waited for two hours until the exotic lizard, which can grow to more than three feet long, was in a position to be removed through a tiny gap under the wheel arch.

A stallion in Rochester, Kent, had to be rescued after he got stuck halfway on a gate in an attempt to visit his female neighbours (PA)
A stallion in Rochester, Kent, had to be rescued after he got stuck halfway on a gate in an attempt to visit his female neighbours (PA)

The Tegu wasn’t the only lizard to find itself in an unusual location. Baffled residents in Folkestone Harbour, Kent, spotted an iguana sunbathing on the roof of a terraced house in September.

The escaped pet was rescued by RSPCA inspector David Grant, with the help of Kent firefighters, and was safely reunited with its owners.

That same month, a lingerie-loving lizard travelled more than 4,000 miles in a woman’s bra from sunny Barbados to Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Lisa Russell spotted the tiny gecko after it fell out of a bra as she unpacked her suitcase after her holiday.

“I thought it was a tiny dead creature and then when it moved I started screaming… I managed to put it safely in a box and then called the RSPCA,” she said.

Meanwhile, a “rather chunky” hedgehog had to be rescued in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in August after falling down an open drain and getting wedged down a tight pipe.

Thankfully unharmed, the “podgy” hedgehog was pulled out using a coat hanger and released back into the undergrowth.

In the same month, a stallion who was desperate to visit his female neighbours got into an embarrassing spot, getting stuck halfway over a gate in Rochester, Kent.

The horse had to be hoisted back into his paddock with help from Kent Fire & Rescue Service.

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