The Co Down mother of twin baby girls who were mauled by a fox as they slept described the attack as “like a living nightmare”.
Pauline Koupparis found her nine-month-old daughters Lola and Isabella crying and covered in blood after the fox went into their upstairs bedroom and attacked them in their cots.
The twins were taken to the Royal London Hospital, in east London, but Isabella was last night transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, in central London, for further treatment.
Both were said to be in a “serious but stable condition”.
The twins were attacked as they slept in an upstairs bedroom at their home in Homerton, east London, at around 10pm on Saturday.
Mrs Koupparis told radio station BBC London: “It's something I would never expect to happen to anybody, let alone happen to my beautiful girls.”
The fox is thought to have crept in through a door on the ground floor which had been left open because of the hot weather while Mrs Koupparis and her husband Nick watched Britain's Got Talent on television.
Mrs Koupparis went upstairs when she heard the the girls crying.
“I went into the room and I saw some blood on Isabella's cot,” she said. “I thought she'd had a nosebleed. I put on the light and I saw a fox and it wasn't even scared of me, it just looked me straight in the eye.”
The couple were “hysterical” when they realised what had happened, she said.
Mrs Koupparis said both girls had undergone surgery.
She said Lola looked “dreadful” but was doing well after suffering a number of facial injuries and some puncture marks on her arm.
Isabella suffered injuries to her arm and was receiving special care, she added.
The twins' four-year-old brother Max, who was also sleeping upstairs, was not hurt.
After the attack pest controllers set fox traps in the back garden and a fox found in one of the devices on Sunday night was humanely destroyed.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers who responded to the original 999 call saw a fox outside the property when they arrived but it is not known if the same fox was destroyed. He said the traps will remain.
Music executive Sav Remzi (46), who lives near the family, said he heard one of the baby girls crying as she was carried to the ambulance after the attack.
“I see foxes all the time and I like them generally but this is quite amazing.
“I never imagined something like this happening.”
A shocked neighbour of the family, who did not want to be named, said: “They're beautiful little babies, really beautiful.”
She said many people in the area have foxes living at the bottom of their gardens.
Furry friend or foe?
*The University of Bristol's Mammal Research Unit estimates there are 258,000 adult foxes in Britain, including 33,000 living in urban areas.
*The highly adaptable red fox has been colonising British cities since the 1930s. It has been a common sight in south London since the 1950s, and will go anywhere there are sizeable back gardens.
*From the 1940s until the 1970s, the Ministry of Agriculture and the London boroughs tried to reduce fox numbers by killing them. It was expensive – and ineffective. Each dead animal left a vacant territory which was soon taken over by another fox.
*The most effective methods for killing foxes used by the Victorians – gin traps and mass poisoning – are now illegal.
*Killing foxes is unpopular. In a survey of 4,000 households, nearly two-thirds said they liked urban foxes and only about one in 12 disliked them.