June 7, 2010 / 11:41 AM / in 7 years

Fox launches "extremely rare" attack on babies

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A fox has attacked two baby girls while they were sleeping at their house in east London, in what one animal expert called a “freakish” event.

The twin baby sisters were in serious but stable condition in hospital on Monday, police said.

Foxes have become common in urban areas in Britain but animal experts said it was extremely rare for them to attack humans.

The attack on 9-month-old Isabella and Lola Koupparis happened in Hackney on Saturday night while their parents were watching television, newspapers reported.

The fox is believed to have entered the house through patio doors which had been left open because of hot weather.

Their mother, Pauline, told BBC radio she had gone up to the girls’ room after hearing a “funny cry ... it was quite muffled but very pained.”

”I went into the room and I’ve seen some blood on Isabella’s cot. I thought she had a nose bleed. I put on the light, I’ve seen the fox and it wasn’t even scared of me.

“It just looked me directly in the eye. I started screaming when I realized Lola is also covered in blood.”

The fox stood its ground even when her husband Nick rushed up to the room, she said.

“The fox didn’t even leave the room. My husband lunged at it three or four times and he sort of moved a few inches each time.”

The couple called emergency services after eventually chasing the fox out.

The girls were both reported to have suffered arm wounds and one a facial injury.

A fox was later caught in a trap set in the family’s garden by pest controllers, police said. The animal was put down in the early hours of Monday morning after a vet said it was not safe to move it.

“Foxes are shy creatures and this sounds like an extremely rare occurrence,” said animal welfare group the RSPCA.

Animal welfare consultant John Bryant told BBC radio he had never come across a fox attack in his business of dealing with them as urban pests.

“It’s a freakish event” he said. “I’ve only heard of two cases in my 40 years of dealing with foxes -- one of which turned out to be a German Shepherd (dog) and the other a cat.”

Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison

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