Trevor’s Week: Orphaned cubs rescued after four-hour ordeal

Kathy disappears underground to rescue one of the cubs
Kathy disappears underground to rescue one of the cubs

I CERTAINLY know how to show Kathy a good time, and Saturday night was no exception, spending four and a half hours with her head stuck in a hole in a bank trying to rescue some fox cubs.

A horserider called us after finding a baby fox cub wandering around a narrow lane near Dallington, a small village between Heathfield and Battle. She placed the cub back into the nearby den where she saw another cub which was calling.

Kathy with one of the rescued cubs

Kathy with one of the rescued cubs

The horserider then noticed a dead fox and grew concerned for the cubs’ welfare. Kathy and I checked the dead fox to find it was a lactating vixen which had been dead for about 24 to 48 hours and probably a road casualty.

The cubs could be heard inside a hole about 8ft up a steep bank on the edge of a very narrow lane. The hole into sandstone rock took a 90 degree turn making it impossible for us to place a net or pole in to catch the cubs.

We used our camera to take photos to establish where they were, the tunnel layout and their condition. We also found two dead cubs in the tunnel.

We had no choice but to widen the entrance hole with a spade and reach round the corner. Alan Knight, OBE, from International Animal Rescue, offered a spade, vital life-saving fluids and some cat food to help save the cubs.

While I drove off to meet Alan, Kathy continued trying to get the cubs and luckily one of them wandered into reach and on my return she was nurturing the cub.

I dug away to make the entrance wider, so Kathy and rescuer Sam Johnson (being much thinner than me) could try crawling far enough inside to reach round the corner, but the disturbance caused the cubs to move back out of sight and out of reach.

Volunteers Debbie and Sam Johnson took the first cub away for care, allowing Kathy and I to concentrate on the rescue of the remaining orphaned cubs.

After a 45 minute-break, the light had gone completely and the rescuers were working in darkness. Using a torch Kathy crawled into the hole and the noise encouraged one of the cubs to stagger towards her thinking mum was bringing in food.

Kathy was then able to reach in and scruff the cub but needed my help to pull her backwards out of the hole. After a quick assessment of the cub’s condition Kathy and I returned to the hole to try and catch cub number three.

This one was much more feisty and Kathy was bitten a couple of times lightly on her hand.

Not willing to be outdone Kathy calmly grabbed the cub and again pulled it free.

Kathy finally emerged from the hole covered in scratches, and bruises.

In total two dead cubs were found and one live male and two live female cubs rescued all in a state of severe dehydration and starving hungry. They were taken by Debbie Johnson for better assessment, and feeding.

This was an amazing rescue, which took four and a half hours which we really thought was going to end badly.

There is no way I was going to fit down the hole, and I was glad for rescuers Sam and Kathy who were much slimmer than me.

The orphans were dehydrated, underweight and starving hungry. There is no way they would have lasted another 24 hours.

There was no way we were going to sleep that evening knowing the cubs were there and could be dead by the morning.

The three cubs are now being looked after by Debbie and Sam. We hope they will all make a full recovery and eventually be released back into the wild.

WHAT an amazing Easter Fair we had at Polegate on Saturday morning - raising more than £1,100 for WRAS - the most we have ever taken at a fair.

We raised approximately £127 on the tombola, £238.30 bric-a-brac, £152.51 in the kitchen from cakes and refreshments, £100.68 in cash donations and £273.66 from the Mayor’s Fund at Polegate Town Council.

We were also handed £150 and £25 cheque donations, plus £45 profit on soft toy sales, as well as other contributions from other tables.

It was great to meet everyone, and Mr Fox and Mr Badger went down well in the town centre too.

Thanks to Sue Archer for working so hard on organising the event and to all who volunteered to help make the event such a success.

We were also at Michelham Priory on Sunday with a display more educational than fundraising, but it was a great event in fabulous settings.

OUR PATRON and CBeebies TV star Sarah Jane Honeywell is at the Wildlife Wednesday Event at Michelham Priory on Wednesday, June 1 during the half-term holiday.

KAREN has completed the Brighton Marathon, race 8 of 9. Next week is the London Marathon and Karen needs as much support as we can give. If you haven’t already made a donation to support this marathon fundraising effort please go to her just giving page at or pop in and see her at Checkers Barber Shop in Seaside, Eastbourne to make a contribution.

WE HAVE an Unusual Quiz Night at our Casualty Centre on Thursday, April 21, from 7.30pm. The questions will not be all about animals, there will be quotes to listen to, pictures to view, drinks to taste, items to feel and much more. There will be refreshments, including soup and bread. We are charging £10 for a team of up to four - all in aid of East Sussex WRAS and helping wildlife in need. It will be a fun event. Please let us know if you would like to attend – just ring 01825 873003 (please do not use this number if you find a casualty).