A FARMER saved the lives of four fox cubs after performing an emergency caesarean on a dead vixen on the side of a busy road.

Chris Rolfe, 24, carried out the operation after the mother fox was killed by a car.

The farmer said he was travelling along the A272, near Cowfold, at about 11.45pm when he saw the fox.

He said he could not leave the animal to die without seeing if he could help.

Chris, from Haywards Heath, said: “I saw her on the road and stopped to check if she was suffering.

“It was instinctive otherwise instead of one life lost, it would have been the death of all the cubs as well as mum.”

The vixen was dead but he could see movement in her stomach which indicated she was pregnant.

He grabbed a knife from his car and performed an emergency caesarean and rescuing four cubs each about six inches long.

Although he had no veterinary training, Chris has previously performed a caesarean during lambing.

Chris put the cubs into his pockets and drove to his mother Jean’s home. They have since been reared there.

The cubs, now seven weeks old, are in the care of the Fox Project, a charity dedicated to treating the red fox, to prepare them to go back into the wild. They are called Ginger, Biscuit, Big Tip and Little Tip.

Jean, 51, began feeding the cubs milk every 20 minutes which then went to “two hours, and three” and they are now being weaned.

She said: “They are eating puppy food and frozen chicks.

“The reason being they would have fur and bones and all sorts when they are in the wild so we are trying to get them ready for the wild. It has taken a lot of care.”

The cubs are under the charity programme and will go back into the wild at the age of six months if ready.

During this time, the foxes will travel to other foster homes and get used to new surroundings.

Jean said: “If Chris hadn’t stopped, they wouldn’t have survived. He was in that frame of mind, I guess because he was looking after the sheep his instinct was there.

“A lot of people talk about having foxes as pets, and even though they are lovely, they are wild and they need to be wild.”