A couple have spoken of their shock seeing a two-legged fox nimbly picking its way through their lawn on its front legs “bolt upright like a human”.
Experts say the fox is likely to have been disabled from birth and fed by humans.
Phil and Jane Carter, who live in Ilkeston, said they spotted the fox and filmed it before it dashed off “like a rocket”.
“My wife saw it, she then shouted at me and I came through to the kitchen with my camera on my phone,” he said, adding that they had spotted the remarkable creature on December 17 after they had just finished putting up their Christmas tree.
“I thought she was joking at first or had misseen it. It was 3pm in the afternoon and I thought it could have been a trick of the light but no, there it was, bright as day walking about on just two legs.”
“It was fascinating,” Mr Carter, 71, said. “It stood bolt upright and ran like a human being on two legs. It just had two little fairy stumps at the back.”
Having spoken to experts from Derbyshire Nature Reserve, he said it was likely that the fox had been born with the disability.
‘Most likely born that way’
“The experts believe it was most likely born that way, because if it had been run over by a car or hit by a combine harvester then the whole of its back would have been damaged, which doesn’t appear to be the case,” he added.
The Derbyshire couple are often visited by foxes but had never seen one like this. Although the animals are usually shy around humans, the creature ended up staying in their garden for 45 minutes.
A spokeswoman for the charity the Fox Project said that the creature appeared to have adapted very well to its disability.
“The way that the legs look, it looks more like it’s been a disability from birth and that’s probably how it’s adapted to be on two legs – its overall condition for two legs looks quite good,” she said.
“Potentially people around there would have supported it from birth,” she added.
“If it was an accident you would have more of the legs there, and if it had been amputated after an injury you would still have the top of the hip joints moving. Any vet would never take both back legs off, so it hasn’t been interfered with by a human.”
“I would say people have potentially supported it from it being like that from quite small – if it was to fend for itself it would not be as it seems. So if it gets food it’s probably been left out by people.”
‘Very rare’ for both legs to be missing
She added: “Disabilities are not normally both back legs but we’ve had them as small cubs dragging back legs and they adapt, as that’s all they’ve known. Limbs can be shorter but it’s unusual for both legs to be missing. I would say this is a very rare thing.”
She said that even when foxes have been hit by cars and are unable to move their back legs they are able to move very quickly,
“But it’s most likely it has a food source from somebody unless other foxes are supporting it. If it’s one of this year’s cubs and mum and other cubs are around they might bring food back to it if they know it can’t get as much food for itself.”
“They’re very social animals – they look after each other when they can.”
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