Jeepers creatures! RSPCA opens its animal crackers call-out archive

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When the RSPCA was called to catch a stray snake found in a Surrey loft, staff were not expecting to find a child's cuddly toy.

But that's exactly what happened when animal welfare officer Carl Hone arrived at the property in December.

The caller, who was nervous of the reptiles, called the charity after seeing the toy, mistaking it for the real deal and rushing downstairs.

The call is just one of a series released by the RSPCA to cheer people up on a day dubbed "Blue Monday" and it seems there is a pattern of callers mistaking inanimate objects for live creatures.

In November, one caller reported that an owl had been sitting on a roof for more than four days.

The caller said that other than turning its head occasionally, the owl appeared unable to move ... which RSPCA inspectors discovered was because the owl was made of plastic.

A month later, Alan Farr was asked to help find a bird stuck in a loft.

"I went into the lady's home and we could hear a regular 'peeping' noise," said the animal collection officer.

"She said she thought it was coming from her roof so we looked and looked. After searching around and unable to find the mystery bird I then went into her front room and found a smoke alarm beeping after the battery had gone flat."

The charity said they receive one call every 27 seconds - more than one million a year and have urged people to make sure they have a genuine problem.

Charity spokesman Dermot Murphy said: "We know that people mean well and most of these calls are not made in malice, and although we would like to be able to help everyone, we simply haven't got the staff to personally investigate each and every issue that the public brings to us.

"We must prioritise to make sure we get to the animals most in need."

In 2016, the RSPCA's 24-hour cruelty line received 1,153,744 calls - 3% more than the previous year.

In other comedic calls:

:: Liz Braidley had a surprise when she responded to a call about an escaped tortoise in Sheffield. "I went into the lady's garden to try to capture the tortoise and it soon became clear that he wouldn't be giving me the run-around - as he was made of stone!" she said.

:: When an officer was called to a building in London to help a bird tangled in an aerial, he realised that it was just a kite, ironically attached to the aerial to deter wild birds.

:: Tom Goldsmith was called to a home after being told that a distressed animal was stuck under the floorboards making 'yowling' noises. However, he soon discovered the truth - a rose bush scraping on the outside of a window.

:: One inspector never even made it to the house she was called to - Sarah Mason was going to visit a stray cat with an open wound under its tail when the caller rang back to report, "Sorry, it's actually its bum!"

:: An animal welfare officer rushed to the scene of a collapsed horse in Leicester, after the caller could not tell whether the horse was still alive. However, when he arrived he found simply a pile of hay.

:: A worried caller told the RSPCA a cat was stuck in the cavity of a wall. The suspicious noise turned out to be coming from a computer game in a nearby bedroom.

:: Collection officer Lauren Bradshaw rushed to reports of a baby crocodile on the side of the road, but upon arrival discovered that the baby crocodile was just a plastic one.

:: A very worried woman contacted the RSPCA when she saw a squirrel stuck inside a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Inspector Vicky Hancox rushed to the scene with wire cutters to free the animal who had squeezed in the feeder but got himself wedged.