The RSPCA has issued a warning after four fox cubs got stuck in old car wheels in the space of a month.

The animal welfare charity is urging people to store their old wheels carefully and check them regularly.

Foxes stick their heads through the holes in the middle of wheels when they are looking for food – but their ears stop them reversing out, the RSPCA said.

It comes after the four separate incidents in different areas of the country over the last few weeks, which has seen cubs rushed to the South Essex Animal Hospital for treatment.

Rodney Kenny, an RSPCA animal welfare officer, rescued a fox from a car wheel in in April.

Thurrock Gazette:

Nick Jonas, another animal rescue officer, was called out to a similar incident in a garden in May 5.

Mr Jonas was also then called out to another incident where a cub was stuck in a wheel in a car repair garage on May 10.

He said both foxes were taken to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital to be rehabilitated before they can be released back into the wild.

Mr Jonas said: “Young foxes are incredibly curious and we quite often get called out to deal with ones that have got themselves in a pickle.

“But in my experience, it’s quite unusual to get four ‘head stuck in wheel’ incidents in just one month.

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“They put their heads through the middle hole of a wheel, maybe searching for food, but then find to their dismay that their ears stop them from reversing out.”

“In situations like this, there’s no time to spare.

“They may have been trapped for several days without food or water, so need to be freed as soon as possible.

“There’s a bit of a knack to freeing fox cubs when they get their heads caught, as it’s their ears that are the problem.

“With both the recent incidents I attended, I found that gently easing the little foxes’ ears one-by-one back through the hole made it easy to free the animals.”

Thurrock Gazette:

“We’re asking the public to be extra vigilant if they keep wheels on their premises. Please store these items carefully and check them regularly, just in case another fox cub traps itself.”

The RSPCA said if anyone finds a wild animal, they are warned not to try and free it.

“Wild animals can scratch, kick and bite when frightened, particularly if they are injured so you could risk hurting yourself and the animal,” the charity said.

“Many animals that become trapped or tangled can be more seriously hurt than you think, so it is best that they are examined properly to see if they need treatment.”

To report concerns about an animal, contact the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.