Fox attacked baby boy in cot, say police

Incident in a south London home leads to fresh calls for a cull of urban 'pest and menace'

Surgeons have worked to repair a serious injury to a baby's finger caused by a fox which had crept into his bedroom and bit him while he slept.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed yesterday that inquiries were continuing into how the fox got inside the infant's family home in Bromley, south-east London.

The four-week-old baby was reportedly dragged from his cot by the animal on Wednesday afternoon. His mother told how she had heard her son screaming, rushed in and found the fox's teeth clenched around his hand.

Paramedics arrived and the injured infant was taken to St Thomas' Hospital for emergency treatment. He was said yesterday to be recovering well from his ordeal and the surgery.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said last night: "They may appear cuddly and romantic but foxes are also a pest and a menace, particularly in our cities. This must serve as a wake up call to London's borough leaders, who are responsible for pest control. They must come together, study the data, try to understand why this is becoming such a problem and act quickly to sort it out."

It is thought more than 10,000 foxes could be living in the capital.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: "It's extremely unusual for foxes to attack young children or anyone. It's not typical fox behaviour at all. Foxes will come closer to a house if there are food sources. Then they can become quite bold, but they usually do back off and run away when there are people around."

There was a scare in Bromley last October when a family reported a fox had broken into their home and seemed to be heading towards a baby's bedroom. Joseph Gillinder, who found the fox in his hallway. said: "It is one thing to have the mangy horrible creatures waltzing around the neighbourhood but one actually came into my house while my back was turned for just a minute while putting out the bin. I'm not normally for any kind of culling, but when it comes to situations like this, I think a culling might be in order."

At the time, Bromley Council's public safety chief, Councillor Tim Stevens, said: "Bromley Council's approach to foxes is to discourage an increase in their population without physically harming them. This is achieved by advising residents to stop doing things that might encourage foxes."

Families in Hackney, east London, were famously advised to keep their doors locked in the aftermath of one of London's most high profile fox attacks in 2010, when Isabella and Lola Koupparis, nine-month-old twins, were mauled by a fox as they slept in their cot. The severity of the injuries to their arms and face led to a national debate on the dangers foxes could pose. A series of animal and wildlife experts tried to reassure the public with reminders of the rarity of fox attacks, Terry Nutkins, the popular animal programme presenter who died last year, insisted: "I can't remember a single verified case of a fox attacking a human unprovoked."

Supporters of a cull draw on cases where the foxes have appeared to attack without warning. In 2003, a four-year-old girl was bitten as she played in her garden in Tufnell Park, north London, while in 2011 Tammy Page, an ambulance driver, said a fox stole into her house through a cat-flap before biting her finger off. Angler Andrew Thomas needed 26 stitches to his face last November after a fox bit him while he slept in a tent near Uckfield.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed officers were alerted to the latest fox attack in Bromley by hospital staff on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the London Ambulance Service said: "We sent an ambulance crew and a member of staff in a response car. A baby was treated and taken to hospital."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea