London firefighters are urging people to think twice before dialling 999 for animal rescues as figures reveal that saving creatures last year cost around £13,000 a month.
Fire crews attended 557 animal rescues in 2014/15 including a fox with its head stuck in a Sutton wall and a squirrel trapped on a satellite dish in Wandsworth.
Cats topped the list contributing to 287 of all calls while dogs accounted for less than a third totting up 82 call outs.
Some of the bizarre incidents the fire service have dealt with include a chimp in a chimney in Tower Hamlets, a snake on the roof of a Camden mosque and a hamster trapped in a letter box in Hounslow.
London Fire Brigade Director of Operations, Dave Brown, said: “We always be there in an emergency but not all animal rescues need our help.
“As well as being time consuming, animal rescues cost the tax payer and I’m sure most people would prefer their money was being spent on training or fire prevention work, than cats up trees.
“If an animal is injured or in distress please call the RSPCA’s 24 hour helpline on 0300 1234 999 or go to rspca.org.uk.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “The RSPCA rescued 127,321 wild, exotic, farm and domestic animals from dangerous and distressing situations last year.
“Wherever we can, the RSPCA will aim to rescue an animal or animals without calling on the resources of the Fire and Rescue Service.”