Firefighters were called away from real emergencies to rescue squirrels, foxes and even a wild animal last year.

Crews are now asking people to call the RSPCA if they see an animal in distress, who can judge whether it needs a more serious response.

In London last year, they were called to 107 rescues.

As well as the more common calls to cats up trees and birds trapped in chimneys, there have also been some unusual ones.

These include a fox stranded in a stream, a snake stuck under a cabinet and a hamster wedged behind skirting.

Redbridge: 25 animal rescues

  • Three dogs
  • 11 cats
  • Seven birds
  • One squirrel
  • Two fixes
  • One other unrecorded wild animal

Waltham Forest: 18 animal rescues

  • Eight cats
  • Two dogs
  • Six birds
  • One fox
  • One domestic pet

Enfield: 19 animal rescues

  • 11 cats
  • One bird
  • Four dogs
  • Two horses
  • One deer

Barnet: 32 animal rescues

  • 10 birds
  • Two dogs
  • 14 cats
  • Three deer
  • Two foxes
  • One wild animal 

Harrow: 13 animal rescues

  • Three birds
  • Five cats
  • One squirrel
  • Two horses
  • One deer
  • One dog

London Fire Brigade group manager Mark Hazelton said: “Most cats find their own way back down trees so if you see an animal in distress, please call the RSPCA first who can judge whether they need our help.

“As these figures show, we are spending a lot of time being called out to help animals that could often be assisted by the RSPCA.

“Firefighters love animals too and we will always help if the RSPCA need us to, but we should only be called for real emergencies.”