EVERYBODY’S heard of our faithful fire crews being called out to rescue a cat from up a tree.

But Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has been called into action over some rather more unusual, and decidedly less furry, friends this year.

A chameleon stuck up a tree for two whole weeks and a hawk attached to a television aerial are among the animal rescues crews have dealt with in the past 12 months.

Information released to the Adver shows the service received a total of 192 calls to animal rescues, including 44 from the Swindon area.

The fire service says it has a ‘rigid’ system for allocating resources to saving small animals – those the size of a dog or smaller – so it can operate efficiently.

The information, revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that all of the Swindon calls were related to small, mostly domestic, animals.

Of the reports, there were 14 relating to mammals, three to birds and three to reptiles – but none to fish, amphibians or invertebrates.

On the initial call regarding the chameleon, the owners were advised about how to coax the animal down themselves.

But the hapless reptile was still up the tree two weeks later and so an animal rescue specialist attended, along with two other officers, and brought it down using an aerial appliance.

However, the fire service said the appliance was still available for fire calls during the rescue.

In another incident, crews had to save a budgie which had become stuck behind a kitchen cabinet.

In the last 12 months in Swindon, crews have also dealt with a Harris hawk stuck by his jess straps to a TV aerial in Park South, a snake abandoned in the street and several domestic cats stuck in trees and on roofs.

To manage resources, for a small animal rescue, the service said it has a ‘rigid’ call challenging process which is followed by both the control room staff and animal rescue specialists.

If there is a need to attend the incident, one animal rescue specialist is sent to work in conjunction with the RSPCA.

But if extra resources are required, they are only sent after an initial assessment has been carried out at the scene.

Guidelines dictate that crews will only respond to calls about cats stuck at height once the animal has been in need of help for 24 hours.

For a large animal rescue, the service sends the nearest appliance, the nearest animal rescue team, an animal rescue specialist and senior officer.

In the rest of Wiltshire this year, there was a total of 148 animal rescue calls, 50 relating to large animals and 98 relating to small animal rescues.