Pet was carried to safety by startled crew member
Firefighters from the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service made a surprise rescue while extinguishing a house fire in Corby, as an iguana leaped on to a team member's helmet to escape the blaze.
The team responded to a call about a fire caused by a faulty reptile heating mat at 11pm on Wednesday 6 January.
As they tackled the flames, the owner's pet iguana jumped to safety on to one of the firemen's helmets.
Speaking to the BBC, a spokeswoman for the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fireman... didn’t realise the iguana had climbed on top of him at first as he initially thought it was a colleague touching his helmet.”
The animal was unhurt and was carried safely out of the house, although there was some damage to the home, there were no other injuries.
In a tweet about the unique incident, the Service wrote: “One of [the] occupants couldn't wait to be rescued and jumped to safety to hitch a ride out!!”
The public responded to the tweet, praising the brave work of the firefighters and wishing the best for the brave reptile and it's owners.
Image (c) Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Homeowner baffled upon finding sleeping creature in their garden
A dormouse that had been 'plumping up' for winter got itself into a tight spot when it managed to squeeze into a garden birdfeeder and needed help from the homeowner to get out.
The dormouse was spotted on Tuesday 17 November by the homeowner, who lives on the Isle of Wight. It's thought that the nocturnal animal got into the feeder overnight in search of food and then fell asleep when it became stuck inside.
The concerned Isle of Wight resident contacted the Hampshire Dormouse Group on Facebook, asking for urgent advice on how to get the creature out safely. The group sent them a link to register the animal on the National Dormouse Database and explained how and when to release it.
The dormouse was released successfully and quickly skittered away, apparently unscathed after its ordeal.
Catherine Hadler, a volunteer for the Hampshire Dormouse Group, was baffled when she saw the picture of the trapped dormouse.
“The dormouse had entered the bird feeder and eaten so much bird food that it was too chubby to get out,” she said. "Safe to say this fatty will survive hibernation just fine."
According to the group, dormouse populations in Britain have declined by 51 per cent since 2000. This is largely due to the destruction of hedgerows for housing developments and farmland.
The Hampshire Dormouse Group is urging the public to help dormice by reporting any sightings to the National Dormouse Database (NDD). This will help organisations to gain an understanding of where dormouse are living across the country, and will inform conservation efforts.
Image (c) Hampshire Dormouse Group.
Six border collies to take part in live experiments
Scientists from the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd (ELTE) University, Budapest are conducting an international research project which aims to find 'the world's smartest dog'.
The Genius Dog Challenge will see six dogs from around the world demonstrate their ability to learn the names of various toys.
The research team will be sharing the dogs' efforts with the rest of the world as part of several live broadcasts taking place from 11 November to 16 December.
The challenge will be split into two stages. For the first stage the dogs have a week to learn the names of six new toys and at the second stage the dogs will be given the same amount of time to learn the names of 12 toys.
At the end of each stage, the dogs will be tested live on the Genius Dog Challenge's Facebook and YouTube. The team aims to publish the data gathered during these live streams as a scientific article.
The project is led by Shany Dror, a PhD Student from the Department of Ethology, ELTE University. She said: “Well-trained dogs can easily learn the names of many commands such as sit or down but learning the names of objects appears to rely on different learning mechanisms.
“There is only a handful of studies conducted on dogs with a large vocabulary of object labels, such as toy names, and these studies are normally conducted on only one or two subjects.
“Our hope is that with this project we will be able to detect new genius dogs that are willing to participate in our research. We encourage owners of such dogs to contact us.”
Owners whose dogs know the names of ten or more objects or toys are invited to apply through the Genius Dog Challenge website.
Image (c) Genius Dog Challenge.
Commons speaker’s cat crowned Westminter’s top feline
A ginger Maine coon named Patrick, belonging to speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has been elected as Battersea’s new Purr Minister, after weeks of campaigning from pet-owning politicians.
Patrick beat out nine other cats in the public vote, earning popularity with his pledges of ‘impurrtiality’ and ‘a better work/mouse balance’. He succeeds former Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd’s cat Alfie, who was elected in 2018.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons and Patrick’s owner, said: “While it is undoubtedly a bit of fun to receive this title for Patrick – and goodness knows we need it in these difficult times – I am so pleased it has been awarded by Battersea, whose work in helping animals in need is well known and deserves our full support.
“Patrick was up against a tough field of well-loved cats, but I think his personality and beauty won over members of the public, who I must thank for all their support in electing him.”
The Purr Minister Competition was created to celebrate the companionship and joy that cats provide and to raise awareness of animal welfare issues. This year’s election was one of the most popular ever, with Battersea reporting a 200 per cent increase in votes compared to the last competition in 2018.
Lindsey Quinlan, head of catteries and feline welfare for Battersea, said that the charity had been blow away by the amount of public support that this year’s candidates received.
She added: “In what has been a very complicated year for everyone, we hope our fun competition has provided some light relief, while also highlighting important animal welfare issues and the vital work Battersea is doing to help animals in need.”
Images (c) Jessica Taylor.
Daily steaming sessions help intensive care pups breath easier
Rescued seal pups at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre have been receiving daily sauna sessions after staff created a mobile sauna unit out of a modified wallpaper stripper.
The centre is currently caring for 49 common seal pups, many of which have respiratory problems. They were admitted to the centre at the start of June and some will require weeks, or even months of intensive care before they can return to the wild.
The makeshift sauna was created to help the pups breathe easier. Twice a day, staff feed a hose through a hole in the wall of each seal’s isolation cubicle, switch the machine on and fill the room with steam.
Centre manager Alison Charles explained: “We had previously used veterinary equipment in the past, but it just wasn't strong enough to steam the whole room.
"So, we put our thinking caps on and got creative and made our own mobile sauna unit out of a wallpaper steamer. It even has a timer and it's on a trolley so it can be wheeled from one cubicle to another.
“We have found it makes a real difference to the seals breathing (just like a sauna can help us) after they have had a few sessions with the steamer!”
Magawa has saved the lives of countless individuals living in Cambodia.
A giant African pouch rat named Magawa has been awarded the animals' equivalent of the George Cross for sniffing out landmines in Cambodia.
Magawa received the PDSA Gold Medal for discovering 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordinate during his career - clearing more than 141,000 square metres of land and saving the lives of countless men, women and children.
He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honouring animals to receive a PDSA Medal – joining a line-up of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.
Magawa was trained by APOPO in Tanzania, a charity that trains rats to detect landmines and other remnants of war. He can identify the chemical compound within explosives and ignore any scrap metal laying around, meaning that he is much faster at detecting landmines than a conventional metal detector.
APOPO CEO Christophe Cox explains: “APOPO’s HeroRATs significantly speed up landmine detection using their amazing sense of smell and excellent memory. We use clicker training to teach rats like Magawa to scratch at the earth above a landmine.
“During training they hear a 'click' and receive a tasty food reward for finding the correct target scent. Unlike metal detectors, the rats ignore scrap metal and only sniff out explosives making them fast and efficient landmine detectors."
He continued: "This not only saves lives but returns much-needed safe land to the communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. This in turn will allow the families living around the minefields to improve their livelihoods and get their lives back on track.”
Magawa was formally presented with his unique miniature PDSA Gold Medal via a live link between Cambodia and the UK on Friday (25 September).
PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin, commented: “The work of HeroRAT Magawa and APOPO is truly unique and outstanding. Cambodia estimates that between four and six million landmines were laid in the country between 1975 and 1998, which have sadly caused over 64,000 casualties.
“HeroRAT Magawa’s work directly saves and changes the lives of men, women and children who are impacted by these landmines. Every discovery he makes reduces the risk of injury or death for local people.
She added: “The PDSA Animal Awards programme seeks to raise the status of animals in society and honour the incredible contribution they make to our lives. Magawa’s dedication, skill and bravery are an extraordinary example of this and deserve the highest possible recognition. We are thrilled to award him the PDSA Gold Medal.”
Image (C) PDSA.
Online awards celebrate feline companionship during lockdown
Cats Protection has revealed the five cats that will progress to the final of the Alternative Cat Awards, with the overall winner to be announced on Wednesday 24 September by comedian Bob Mortimer.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the charity unfortunately had to postpone its annual National Cat Awards, and instead asked the public to send in videos showcasing the various ways in which their cats provided comfort and support during lockdown.
A group of celebrity judges then chose five category winners to go through a public vote for the ‘People’s Purrfect Choice’ award.
The finalists are:
- One-year-old Norbert from Tewkesbury, who won the #PurinaPurrfectTeamwork award for demonstrating how ‘helpful’ our cats have been for those of us that were working from home during lockdown
- Charlie Roo from Dumfries, who has underdeveloped front legs and won the #PurrfectlyImperfect category, which celebrates disabled cats living happy, healthy lives
- Seven-year-old Sid from Baldock, who won the #MischeviousMoggy category by showing off his astounding acrobatic skills on his owner’s staircase
- Winner of the #SeniorKitizen category - 21-year-old cat Cookie from Romford, who was clearly enjoying her retirement in a video submitted by her owner
- Bean from Morely, who is four years old and won the #BestNewcomer category after her owner filmed her making the most of her new climbing tower.
The owner of the winning cat will be invited to attend the National Cat Awards, hosted by Cats Protection – in London at the Savoy Hotel on 5 August 2021.
Katy Geary, Cats Protection’s acting head of media relations, said: “During lockdown, we heard countless stories of how the nation’s pet cats were helping their owners during such unprecedented times. Whether it was providing a welcome distraction when we were all getting to grips with homeworking, being a companion to people living alone, or becoming a playmate for children missing their school friends, our pet cats have been an invaluable support to many of us.
“There can only be one winner, but our Alternative Cat Awards are all about celebrating everything we love about cats and the joy and laughter they bring to a home, especially in difficult times.”
To watch the finalists’ videos, please visit the Cats Protection blog.
Images (c) Cats Protection.
An emu from Doncaster that had been on the run for almost a week has returned home.
The six-foot-bird, named Ethel, escaped from her enclosure last Thursday (6 August). Owner Kerry Dobson launched a new appeal for help on Tuesday (11 August), but Ethel has since returned.
Announcing Ethel's safe return on Facebook, Victoria Robinson-Hewitt said: “She’s home! Thank you all for sharing ... group effort this”.
According to the Doncaster Free Press, Ethel ran away after getting spooked by people taking her photograph. Police and RSPCA officers followed up several sighting in the Doncaster region, but she managed to evade their capture.
Native to Australia, emus are the second-largest birds in the world. They naturally range over large areas, foraging on insects, fruits and seeds.
Ethel is reported to have spent her few days of freedom roaming Sprotbrough, Newlands Park and the Trans Pennine Trail.
Brave bird left completely unscathed by her ordeal.
A chicken has been rescued by the RSPCA after surviving a 90-mile journey wedged underneath a lorry.
The bird had travelled from Lincolnshire to Hertfordshire under an egg delivery trailer, and even layed an egg herself!
She was found by staff at a food delivery company in Borehamwood after the lorry pulled into the industrial park. The staff managed to contain her in a cardboard box with some pine nuts and water before contacting the RSPCA for help.
“The journey would have been a feat of 'hendurance' for this little explorer but thankfully, the brave bird was completely unscathed," commented Inspector Nicole Smith, who came to collect the hen.
“She was a little bedraggled from the wet and windy two-hour journey but she certainly wasn’t in a flap when she was found. The staff put her in a cardboard box where she made herself so comfortable that she laid an egg!
“The delivery company was unable to trace where the bird had come from so she was signed over to the RSPCA. I knew I could find her a loving home and I was right!”
Several phone calls later, Nicole managed to find the hen a home with Hilary Carlen who has adopted farm birds from the RSPCA before. The hen, who has now been named Henrietta, is said to be thoroughly enjoying her new home.
“She’s a pretty strong hen. I don’t think most hens would have survived that kind of stress. She’s particularly robust as she seemed absolutely unruffled," said Hilary.
“She’s settled in well with my other six hens, three of which are also RSPCA rescues. She’s very amiable and friendly and doesn’t mind being handled. I’m so glad I was able to give another rescue hen a loving home.”
Image (C) RSPCA.
The eels have started to forget about humans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Japanese aquarium is hosting a 'face-showing festival' for its spotted garden eels, which have grown shy of humans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toyko's Sumida Aquarium was forced to close because of the crisis, but the lack of visitors appear to be having a profound effect on its underwater residents.
It says that a lack of human interaction has made it difficult for staff at the aquarium to check the health of the eels, which dive back down into the sand whenever someone walks past their tank.
It is also worried that once the aquarium reopens, the sudden flood of visitors could stress the eels out.
The aquarium tweeted: "They don't see humans, except keepers, and they have started forgetting about humans. Garden eels, in particular, disappear into the sand and hide every time the keepers pass by. Here is an urgent request - could you show your face to our garden eels from your home?"
The 'face-showing festival' is taking place 3-5 May and people are being asked to dial into one of five tablets that have been placed in front of the tank using the information available on the Aquarium's website.
Competition to raise funds for abandoned or unwanted pets.
If you're stuck (safe!) at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, now's your chance to get creative. Mars Petcare has launched its Pet Comedy Photo Awards 2020 in celebration of the nation's pets. Here are just some of the brilliant entries submitted to last year's competition, which we hope will help make your day a little bit brighter.
The competition is raising money for UK pet charity Blue Cross to assist them in their mission of finding happy homes for abandoned or unwanted pets. Professionals and complete amateurs are encouraged to pick up a camera and capture those hilarious moments with their pets.
From the masterminds behind the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, the competition calls on pet owners to use their camera or camera phone to take snaps of their furry (or not so furry!) friends. The winner will receive £3,000 and be crowned the 'Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photographer of the Year'.
As well as bringing some smiles during this difficult time, the partnership aims to highlight the incredible joy that pets can bring to people's lives, especially during hardship. It also aims to raise much-needed funds for sick, injured, abandoned, or homeless pets by donating 10 per cent of the sponsorship fee and 10 per cent of the £5,00 entry fee to Blue Cross.
“This is an absolutely fantastic partnership, and we are thrilled to be working with Mars Petcare and their wider family of pet-loving supporters,” said Tim Sullam, Pet Photo Awards.
“In these gloomy times that we have all been living through, it is important to keep our spirits up and maintain a positive outlook. We know from Comedy Wildlife Awards that animals are a great source of humour, we can't wait to see your hilarious pet images.”
Mars Petcare UK general manager Helen Warren, added: “The nation will appreciate now more than ever, the benefits of having a pet in the home and this competition gives us all an official reason to share just how amazing they are. We're delighted the partnership is raising funds for Blue Cross as well as raising much-needed awareness for homeless pets in the UK.”
The closing date for entries is 31 August 2020. For more information about the various categories and to enter, visit www.comedypetphoto.com
Images (C) Mars Petcare.
Animals have been providing welcome distraction to self-isolating residents
Residents in Llandudno, Wales, got quite the surprise last week when a herd of wild goats ventured into the town, feasting on garden plants and hedges.
According to BBC News, some 122 Kashmiri goats wandered into the streets from Great Orme, a headland situated to the North West of Llandudno.
The goats are regular visitors to the town, but usually only in bad weather. Town councillor Carol Marubbi believes this latest visit could be due to the coronavirus outbreak, with more people staying inside.
"They are curious, goats are, and I think they are wondering what's going on like everybody else," she said. “There are very few visitors on the top [of the Orme], so they have come down in their droves. There isn't anyone else around so they probably decided they may as well take over."
Ms Marubbi added that the goats have been providing “free entertainment” to people from their windows and that residents were “very proud” of their four-legged visitors.
Llandudno resident Andrew Stuart has been posting regular updates about the goats on Twitter. In a series of tweets on Friday (27 March), he joked that he had 'got a group of goats arrested' after he spotted them nibbling on hedges.
The self-proclaimed 'goat correspondent' wrote: 'I gave @NWPolice a call to tell them a load of kids (geddit?) were running riot (I didn’t actually say that... sadly). They said they’d pass it on to officers'.
Ricochet helps to calm fears and anxieties during social distancing
A therapy dog named Ricochet has been providing comfort to people in need from a distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the re-circulation of a viral video that shows her journey from puppyhood to therapy dog.
The video shows the process of Ricochet’s training, which began when she was a puppy, as well as how she inspired the original concept of canine-assisted surf therapy in 2009, after taking part in a fundraiser for Patrick Ivison, who is quadriplegic. The inspiring video now has more than 6.6 million views on YouTube.
More than ten years later, Ricochet is now a certified goal-directed therapy dog and has surfed with hundreds of children and adults with different disabilities, as well as wounded soldiers and veterans with PTSD.
Therapy dogs can be invaluable in a crisis, providing comfort and support to people who need it most. But social distancing measures, which are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have unfortunately resulted in the suspension of many animal assisted therapy programmes. Non-profit organisation Puppy Prodigies, which Ricochet is a part of, hopes that this video can help inspire people in these difficult times.
Puppy Prodigies runs initiatives that utilise service, therapy and emotional support dogs in an effort to empower people with disabilities, children with special needs and veterans.
Executive director Judy Fridono, who is also Ricochet’s guardian, said: "At a time where dogs could be a great valuable resource, we are thinking outside the box in an effort to provide some form of canine therapy to the millions of people around the world who need it.”
Image (c) Puppy Prodigies.
Smell of cooking food used to lure nervous collie
A border collie that went missing in Fisherfield Forest in the Scottish Highlands was found after mountain rescuers used the smell of cooking bacon and sausages to lure the dog to safety.
The dog, named Nell, was frightened off in the early hours of Sunday morning by a helicopter used in a rescue mission to find her owner.
The following day, off-duty members of the Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team Alison Smith and Rachel Drummond returned to the area with their dogs, along with a winter mountaineering kit and a disposable barbecue.
A spokesperson for Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team said: “Having walked to the vicinity of Loch an Nid, they fired up the barbecue and soon had bacon and sausages sizzling. The desired effect was soon achieved: a confused and anxious border collie appeared on the horizon, on a rocky hillside.”
After being lured closer by the smell of the food, Nell was secured and treated to a picnic lunch before being walked back to the roadside by her rescuers. The collie was thankfully unharmed and is has now been safely reunited with her owners.
Yorkshire fire crews extinguish blaze on farm
Fire crews were called to a farm near Bramham, Leeds on Saturday, after a pig accidentally caused a fire which spread through four pig pens.
According to the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the fire was started by a battery-powered pedometer which had been swallowed and then excreted by one of the farm’s pigs.
It is believed that the copper from the batteries had reacted with the pig’s excrement and dry bedding, igniting and burning approximately 75 square metres of hay. No animals or people were harmed.
The pedometers were being used to prove that the pigs were free-range.
Teams from nearby Tadcaster and Knaresborough attended the scene at approximately 2pm. In a tweet summarising the incident firefighters said: “A hose reel was used to extinguish the fire and save the bacon.”
Image (c) North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Chicks hatched during the height of storm Dennis
A traffic light in the centre of Leeds might not seem the most ideal place for a bird to build its nest, but that’s exactly where a pair of mistle thrush have decided to rear their chicks.
The mistle thrush family have set up home in front of an amber traffic light. Conservationists say the eggs were laid as early as late-January and hatched in the middle of February during the height of storm Dennis.
Now, despite treacherous weather conditions, all four healthy chicks are ready to fledge the nest - something that has sparked concern among wildlife experts, given that the normal laying season for mistle thrush - also known as stormcocks - usually starts at the end of February.
“With the weather turning dramatically for much of the UK over the winter, it’s very unusual for these birds to set-up nest in traffic lights, so this is certainly not creating a stormcock in a teacup!" commented RSPB wildlife advisor, Charlotte Ambrose.
“What’s even more bizarre is the fact that we’re seeing nesting more than a month earlier than usual as there have been unseasonably high temperatures, despite storms Ciara, Dennis and Ellen. These weather conditions are having a detrimental effect on our wildlife as eggs are being laid earlier in the year, and summer migratory visitors are arriving earlier and leaving later.”
Conservationists say the heat from older versions of traffic lights could have attracted the birds during breeding season, as they provided shelter and warmth, as well as attracting insects as sources of food at night.
Newer versions of traffic lights, however, are fitted with LEDs that don’t emit as much heat. But, this doesn’t appear to have deterred the birds for using them to nest and raise their chicks.
Charlotte added: “2020 is a critical year for nature and global leaders are deciding the fate of our planet later this year, based on evidence around the climate and nature emergencies we’re facing.
"The State of Nature report released in October showed more than 41 per cent of UK species are in serious decline and as nature is falling silent around us, it’s never been more important that we all help give nature a home.”
Image (C) RSPB.