Child aged three bitten by fox at playgroup in Brighton

Image caption,
The fox was under a building at the Dorothy Stringer playgroup

A three-year-old boy was taken to hospital after being bitten on the arm by a fox at a playgroup in Brighton.

Jake Jermy was attacked while attending a party on Saturday at the Dorothy Stringer playgroup, next door to Dorothy Stringer High School.

It is believed the fox turned on the boy when he saw the animal's tail sticking out from under a building and tried to stroke it.

His parents described him as a "brave little boy" who was recovering well.

In a statement, Sam and Jacqui Jermy, both 35, said: "Jake told us he was going to get a ball from under one of the sheds.

"Jake, I'm sure, disturbed the fox and the fox responded and bit him.

"Since then he has recovered really well and is in really good spirits and is a brave little boy."

The playgroup was closed on Monday while staff considered how to ensure the safety of its children.

'Shy creatures'

A spokesman for Sussex Police said officers were called by South East Coast Ambulance Service at 1230 BST.

The child was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

The playgroup, which has been operating for more than 35 years, said in a statement: "The child is now recovering at home, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

"We have been aware of the foxes for some time. The advice we had been given by a local wildlife expert was that they did not pose a threat to people."

It said the temporary building where the fox was hiding was due to be knocked down to make way for a new building within weeks.

"We have been in touch with Defra and also with a local pest control company, which is due to visit... to give advice on the action we should take," the playgroup added.

It comes a fortnight after nine-month-old twins Isabella and Lola Koupparis were attacked after a fox crept into their upstairs bedroom in Hackney, east London.

It is thought to have got in through a door on the ground floor, which was left open because of the hot weather.

Both girls have since been discharged from hospital.

Trevor Weeks, founder of the charity East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service, called for a proportionate response to the Brighton incident.

"It has been known for years by the educational authorities that foxes live under such makeshift buildings at schools, so it should come as no surprise that there was a fox present," he said.

"The fox did not attack the child - it was defending itself. There is a significant difference.

"Any wild animal is going to turn round and bite if you grab its tail."

An RSPCA spokesman said: "Foxes are shy creatures and will usually avoid contact with people.

"We offer our sincere condolences to the child and family concerned and wish for a speedy recovery."

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