An SOS call to a beaver in distress was far beyond the norm for RSPCA centre manager Clive Martin.
He could scarcely believe his eyes when confronted by the lacklustre beaver hiding beneath a car at Cliffsend, near Ramsgate.
The hapless creature, believed possibly to have come from Ham Fen nature reserve near Sandwich, was discovered at Cliffs End Grove yesterday morning.
The beaver found hiding under a car at Cliffsend near Ramsgate
Unsure what to do, the rodent’s discoverers contacted expert animal carer Mary Knott at Cats In Crisis.
She went to help but recognised the creature needed aid beyond the Thanet cat charity’s means, so she called Thanet RSPCA’s Woodchurch Animal Rescue Centre at Manston.
Because of high levels of demand on RSPCA inspectors and frontline rescue staff due to flooding, Mr Martin went to the rescue himself.
He said: “I thought I would find a mink and could hardly believe it when I found it actually was a beaver. I thought ‘it can’t be’, but saw its tail and knew there was no doubt.”
With careful use of a net, he was able to manouevre the animal into a crate and take it back to the centre.
It is believed the animal had found its way to Pegwell Bay and then come ashore across the main road before taking refuge beneath the car.
The beaver found at Cliffsend, receives care and attention following its capture
Mr Martin contacted Defra, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Wildwood Trust at Herne Common.
He said: “From the RSPCA’s point of view, we don’t have to deal with every animal ourselves. There are other organisations better equipped.
"Our priority is always the welfare of the animal. I have dealt with gull rescues before and a fox in a car park at Westwood Cross. This one was exceptional.”
Wildwood has its own beavers and has worked with Kent Wildlife Trust on a trial reintroduction into the wild of beavers at Ham Fen.
Wildwood conservation officer Vicki Johnson and keeper Chris Jewell have specialist knowledge of handling beavers and took the Cliffsend refugee from Woodchurch for veterinary care at Dover’s Burnham House practice where principal Jeremy Stattersfield is passionate about and experienced in caring for wildlife, including beavers from Wildwood.
Helpers at the Wildwood Trust prepare to transfer the beaver to a travelling container
The animal, which is thought to be male, was found to be dehydrated and put on antibiotics and fluids. A Burnham House spokeswoman said: “He is doing fine and expected to go on to Wildwood later today.”
Tony Swandale, East Kent Coastal Warden for the Kent Wildlife Trust and responsible for the Ham Fen, Sandwich and Pegwell Bay national nature reserve, said it was likely the animal came from the Ham Fen reserve which had its own colony of eight to 10 beavers.
They were first introduced in 2002 as a natural means of restoring and maintaining the "very rare" woodland habitat there.
He said: "It is very likely that with recent extraordinary events including the worst flooding since records began, this beaver came from Ham Fen and was washed into the estuary and was disorientated."