While 2020 felt like a difficult year, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. Our animals have provided comfort, joy and happiness while we endured lockdown uncertainty.
As well as the companionship of our wonderful pets, animals have also provided us with some memorable moments, including those who got themselves into some a-moo-sing and somewhat challenging situations and have needed a helping paw from the rescue teams at the RSPCA. From a seal who was found in two strange predicaments in Llanelli, to the cutest orphaned mice and hoglets, from the scorpion found in a Denbeigh house, five bats found in a sack on the side of the road and a frog found in a bunch of bananas! There have also been some amazing cat rescues and reuniting stories too!
So, after this challenging year, here are some of RSPCA’s unusual and remarkable animal rescues from Wales during 2020:
‘I seal you there!’
Workers at a gym equipment warehouse in Llanelli were stunned to find a grey seal pup amongst the treadmills on 11 December. It’s believed he travelled up the River Loughor before making his way into the warehouse. Staff ushered him out and back into the river but he was found, two days later, in a ditch in Llangennech – where the recent train derailment occurred earlier this year. It’s believed he entered one of the chambers there – which was full of oily water – in high tide. RSPCA inspector Leigh Summers attended and collected the sick, underweight pup who transferred him to RSPCA animal rescuer Ellie West for urgent care. Nicknamed Bergamot the seal is now with RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre for rehabilitation.
‘Are ewe ok?
RSPCA rescuers abseiled a 100-foot cliff to rescue a sheep from a Llandudno cliff ledge back in January. Difficult weather conditions and fears of the panicked sheep jumping from the ledge to “certain death” all had to be taken into account as RSPCA Cymru meticulously planned the rescue. The sheep was approximately 30-feet down, meaning officers had to ensure it did not tumble a further 70-feet to the ground. Fortunately, the sheep was fine despite the ordeal, and was returned to the farmer – who had initially sounded the alarm after spotting the missing member of his flock.
Twice as nice for the cutest mice
Two baby wild mice were rescued and hand-reared at the home of an RSPCA officer back in March after they were found orphaned in the Fairwater area of Cardiff. The duo named Mickey and Minnie were fed pet-replacement milk from a pipette, and were quickly already able to nibble sunflower seeds – with feeding at their temporary abode caught on heart-warming video footage.
Teeny tiny hoglets
Three orphaned baby hedgehogs were returned to the wild in August after two months of rehabilitation and care, including being hand-reared by RSPCA officers when they were only days old in June. They came into RSPCA care after their nest in Tavernspite in Pembrokeshire was accidentally disturbed. The three boys weighed just a combined 89 grams at the time – tipping the scales at 27g, 30g and 32g respectively. Hand-rearing was crucial to their survival – and the trio were initially fed electrolyte fluids from a syringe by RSPCA animal rescuer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben. They were then moved onto a special milk formula they were given every two hours – including, initially, overnight. The hogs – once weaned – were transferred to Gower Bird Hospital for further rehabilitation and care, before they were big and strong enough to be returned to the wild in August – almost two months after first coming into the RSPCA’s care.
‘Is that a scorpion in my house?’
Back in September a member of the public in Denbigh had a fright – when her dog found a scorpion running across the living room floor. Fortunately, the scorpion was uninjured and has been transferred to appropriate accommodation with a keeper who lives in the region. The scorpion was from the Euscorpius genus – and was therefore not dangerous, and no licence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is required to own them in Wales. It was unknown where the scorpion came from – but it was suspected it may be an escaped pet, or have returned amid somebody’s holiday luggage. However, there are also some small colonies living in the wild in the UK.
Narrow escape for cat
An extremely frightened and cold cat was freed from a three-inch narrow gap after becoming stuck between a garage and a wall in Penarth back in March. RSPCA inspector Sophie Daniels attended along with Barry fire station’s red watch team from South Wales Fire & Rescue Service. The cat was well and truly stuck and could only move his head. The fire service – with the homeowner’s permission – removed bricks from the garage to release him. Thank goodness!
Banana bunch for frog
An exotic frog made a 5,000-mile trip to an Asda store in Llanelli – after being found amongst an a-peel-ing bunch of bananas from Colombia. RSPCA Cymru was alerted to the unusual discovery after an eagle-eyed member of staff spotted the frog while on shift at the Murray Street in June. The frog – nicknamed Asda, after the site of his discovery – was transferred to Silent World to You; a marine life specialist centre in Haverfordwest – where he is now living in a special planted, humid environment. It can be difficult to identify species of frog – but staff at Silent World think he is a Banana Tree Frog.
In October a cat was reunited with his family after EIGHT YEARS – all thanks to a Mo-mentous microchip.
Black cat Mo was returned to the Harris family in the Birchgrove area of Swansea, after being rescued by the RSPCA in the Llansamlet area of the city. Mo had been well looked after, but sadly his most recent owner had passed away – and the cats were temporarily being fed by a kind-hearted neighbour before the RSPCA was contacted to help. Animal rescuer Paula Milton arrived to collect the cats – and was later stunned to discover that one was microchipped to a different property; from where he had gone missing way back in 2012. Mo’s microchip was checked at the Llys Nini Animal Centre – where Mo was first rehomed to the Harris family. Remarkable!
‘You bat-er believe it!’
A motorist had a surprise after finding five brown long-eared bats in a green refuse sack on the A48.
The sack was spotted on the road at the Maes Y Bont turn-off last in November – with the member of public in “unbelievable shock” when he went to move the bag and saw signs of life inside. He safely stored the bats – three of whom are female, and two male – in shoe boxes before transferring them to a local veterinary practice.
All five of the bats went into the care of the RSPCA, and were released safely back into the wild. (Release video available here)
Fig’s happy ending
It was a story that broke all our hearts when Fig was found with horrendous injuries back in October. Fig was found by members of the public after straying into a yard at Painscastle, Powys. He had gruesome injuries to his mouth, jaw and lips – which were consistent with badger baiting. Thankfully following a lot of TLC at RSPCA’s Newport Animal Centre Fig’s condition improved and recently found his forever home in time for Christmas. We just love a happy ending!
If you find an animal in need of help, please contact the RSPCA’s emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999 for advice.
The RSPCA responds to more than one million calls every year and rescues more than 100,000 animals in need. To help the charity rescue more animals like these, please donate by visiting www.rspca.org.uk/give.