A woman was enjoying her weekend at home when she heard something that would frighten any mother. Her husband shouted to her that there was a wild animal in the yard, near where their toddler was playing. Read on to see what this couple soon discovered about the unexpected and rare animal in their yard.
A Furry Shadow In The Distance
David Scott was enjoying a typical Saturday morning with his toddler. The 45-year-old engineer was in the backyard with his kiddo having some fun. The two were headed out to go play on their trampoline, and that’s when they saw it.
David noticed a furry, black animal that at first seemed to be no more than a shadow. He wondered if he was just seeing things, but then he noticed that it was starting to move.
Calling To His Wife
Once David realized that the shadow was moving, he did what any logical parent would do. He yelled! David called out to his wife, Anna McArdle. Anna had been inside when she heard her husband’s call.
She told the Independent, “He’d gone out with the baby, and I heard him shouting that there’s a wild animal. He was a bit panicked by it.” Anna must have also been quite frightened to hear her husband so taken aback.
When the mysterious creature heard David shout, it froze in place. David and his little one were also standing still. Everything seemed to be on pause as they waited for someone to make a move.
The one person who was moving was Anna. She rushed out of the house to see what her husband had been yelling about. After all, he did say it was a wild animal, and their young child was out there, too!
Is It Just A Dog?
By the time Anna got outside, the animal was sitting under a table. The way it was positioned in the shade made it hard to discern what kind of creature it could be.
Anna thought it may be a dog. There are plenty of breeds of dogs out there, and the animal’s dark fur made it all the more challenging to see. Plus, it was behaving quite well for something that her husband suspected was wild.
A Closer Look Revealed Something Else
If it was a dog then the couple would at least have an idea of what they were in for. It’s possible that Anna’s assumption relaxed her a little, or at least enough for the animal to unfreeze.
It stood up and that’s when Anna realized that it wasn’t a dog. The tail was large and very bushy given the size of the rest of the animal’s body. That’s when it dawned on Anna what this was.
Could It Be A Fox?
Anna realized that the animal’s tail and other features closely resembled that of a fox. However, foxes are red and this animal had a dark coat. It also seemed a little bit larger than the average fox.
Either way, Anna and her husband figured it was best to get their child inside and to safety. They slowly made their way back into the house. The parents figured that the animal would eventually go away on its own.
Not A Typical Wild Animal
Anna and David were having a hard enough time figuring out what to do since they’d never encountered this issue before. Wild animals didn’t typically come into their backyard.
But then things got even more strange. The animal didn’t scurry off like you’d expect it to. Instead, it came up closer to the house! It was as though the animal was used to being around people. Was it possible that this creature wasn’t wild at all?
Peering In Through The Window
Though the creature walked up to the house, it didn’t seem to be a threat to the family. If anything, it was just curious… almost like it was asking the family for some help.
The family was making eye contact with the animal through the window, and that’s when they knew they couldn’t just leave it there. At the same time, they weren’t experts when it came to this sort of thing. They needed to talk to someone who was.
Looking For Answers On Social Media
Anna figured that the least she could do was post about it on social media. Perhaps someone else would know something about this animal. They still weren’t even sure what species it was!
Anna took some photos of the animal and put them online. The mysterious creature piqued the interest of tons of strangers, and before long the post had gone viral! Hopefully, someone would know what to do about the poor thing.
A Professional Saw The Facebook Post
Anna turned to Facebook to make her post about the curious animal. She explained in the caption what had happened. She also mentioned that she thought it was a fox based on its tail, but that she didn’t know if black foxes existed.
This information caught the eye of Amanda Lovett, who had formerly worked for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). It is the largest animal welfare charity in the UK.
Amanda Hadn’t Rescued An Animal Like This One
In all her years with the RSPCA, Amanda had never seen an animal like this one. That’s saying something considering that the organization saves thousands of animals each year!
The charity was founded in 1824 in London. It is now headquartered in Southwater, which is about three and a half hours from Anna and David’s home in Alsager. Still, the charity was eager to make the trek across England to learn more about this incredible animal.
The Animal Was An Extremely Rare Silver Fox!
Amanda was able to get in touch with Anna and David and she informed them that the animal was, indeed, a fox. However, it wasn’t just any old fox. It was an extremely rare silver fox!
Silver foxes have a condition called melanism, which is the opposite of albinism. As a result, their fur can be between silver and black in color, making their fur appear blue-gray or ashy-gray. Since they are so rare, they are historically among the most valuable fur-bearers.
They Had To Keep The Fox In The Backyard
Though Amanda was no longer an RSPCA inspector, she was still in the business of saving animals. Best of all, she was located closer to Anna and David’s home! After Amanda left the RSPCA, she started a cattery right in Alsager!
Amanda figured she would use one of her cat cages to catch the fox. At the same time, she needed Anna and David to do one major task. They had to keep the silver fox in the yard!
The Threat Of Fireworks
It was especially important that they catch the fox because of what time of year it was. It happened to be Guy Fawkes Day, an annual commemoration celebrated in the United Kingdom.
A major part of the celebration is setting off fireworks, which made catching the silver fox all the more important. Amanda explained to The Mirror, “This was on Saturday, one of the biggest nights for fireworks, and we knew we had to get the fox to safety.”
Catching The Fox
When Amanda arrived, she devised a plan to get the fox into her cat box. She, Anna, and David managed to guide the animal into the utility room. Once the fox was in a confined space, Amanda could work her magic.
She had plenty of experience with wild animals that enabled her to calm the fox down before carefully luring it into the cat box with a grasper. They still didn’t know for sure if the animal was wild or domesticated.
Transporting The Fox To A Safe Location
Amanda found a nearby location to transport the fox to: Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre. Though the center would take in the silver fox, they hadn’t cared for one in the 25 years they’d been open.
Stapeley Grange was so willing to take in the rare animal that they even stayed open late to admit it. They discovered that the fox was a male and named him Shadow. It was a fitting nickname considering David almost mistook him for a shadow at first.
They Determined Shadow Was Likely Someone’s Pet
Anna and David were the first to notice how calm Shadow seemed, and Amanda also noted how tame the animal was. The manager of Stapeley Grange, Lee Stewart, agreed that Shadow’s demeanor didn’t match that of a wild fox.
He told The Mirror, “It is likely that Shadow has been kept as a pet, and he has either escaped, in which case we need to find his owners, or he has been dumped by his owners.”
Getting Checked By The Vet
A team of vets at Stapeley Grange inspected Shadow to make sure he wasn’t in need of medical attention. They determined that the silver fox was in great health! The only thing that was noteworthy was his weight.
Shadow was slightly overweight, which explains why Anna thought he was bigger than the average fox. His weight was another sign that Shadow must have owners since he was getting regular meals. Whoever it was, they must have known what they were doing.
Not The Average Pet
Though silver foxes are sometimes kept as exotic pets, their owner can’t be just anyone. That’s because these animals have a unique set of needs that many households wouldn’t be able to fulfill.
For instance, they don’t do well indoors so they need room to roam outside. They also have an expensive diet that consists of rodents, rabbits, berries, and plants. Plus, they require visits with a specialist that can be more costly than the average vet.
Shadow Won’t Be Released Into The Wild
Since Shadow has been domesticated, it wouldn’t be safe to return him to the wild. Though silver foxes are the same species as red foxes, they need to grow up in the wild to retain certain skillsets.
If Shadow was wild, then he would have behaved very differently around humans. While his calm demeanor is advantageous in civilized areas, it is a handicap in the wild. Since Shadow is too domesticated to live on his own, he’ll need a permanent home.
Caring For Foxes Is No Joke
Silver foxes have historically been bred for their fur, but some people like to own them simply because they are cute and rare creatures. However, RSPCA warns against taking one on without doing proper research.
Even fox experts have had a difficult time taking care of one of these animals. Though they are only the size of a medium dog, they are very quick on their feet and have different needs. Shadow will need to go to either a sanctuary or a specialist.
Shadow Was A Hit At Stapeley Grange
Lee Stewart, the manager at Stapeley Grange, told The Mirror that Shadow “is an impressive-looking animal and it has been interesting to us all to have such a rare admission.” Though the workers loved having their furry friend, they were also determined to find him a permanent home.
Shadow wasn’t microchipped, so that presented a challenge when it came to hunting down the owner. Ultimately, Stapeley Grange and the people at RSPCA were unable to find out where this silver fox came from.
Shadow Has A New Owner Now
In the end, Shadow wasn’t able to go back with his former owner because the experts couldn’t find any information on the individual. Instead, they were tasked with finding Shadow a new forever home.
It couldn’t just be any home as they wanted to be sure that Shadow’s caretaker could meet all of his unique needs. That’s why Stapeley Grange set the fox up with a specialist keeper who cares for foxes specifically. Now Shadow is safe from hunters and wild animals alike.
Curiosity Paid Off
Anna and David could have just left Shadow to fend for himself, but they were concerned enough to reach out for help. It’s a good thing that the silver fox strolled onto the property of such kind homeowners.
If Shadow had been left out in the wild for too long, who knows what could have happened to the exotic pet. Fortunately, the silver fox got the help he needed to live the rest of his life in great care.