RSPCA inspectors urgently dispatched to help a fox trapped in a bush had a surprise when they arrived to find it was very much past the point of living.
A concerned resident had contacted the organisation on Monday after spotting the animal stuck in the shrubbery for several days.
The fox was described as lethargic, and the resident said it had not moved for days. It was believed the fox had been losing weight in recent weeks.
Inspector Ellie Burt said the caller was advised "to try the broom test," to ensure the fox was still alive.
The caller then said the fox "didn’t move but tracked them with its eyes and seemed to be breathing well".
Concerned, Inspector Burt travelled to the scene to investigate what was happening.
After some investigation, it was discovered the fox was actually a stuffed animal placed under the bush as a joke.
Inspector Burt said: "As soon as I arrived I realised that this wasn’t a live fox but a dead fox who’d been stuffed by a taxidermist.
"He’d clearly been placed under a bush outside of the houses as a prank. After speaking to some of the neighbours, I soon discovered that someone had been moving it around the neighbourhood."
The stuffed animal has now been moved to a new location to avoid any more calls.