Motorists are being urged to be vigilant after two reports of animals becoming trapped under vehicles on opposite sides of the world.
In Australia, a koala survived a 16km (10 mile) trip clinging to the axle of a four-wheel drive vehicle before the driver stopped and heard the cries of the traumatised animal.
The female koala had crawled into the wheel arch while the car was parked in the hills on the outskirts of Adelaide, the state capital of South Australia.
The fire brigade was eventually called to take the wheel off to help a wildlife rescue worker free the animal.
“I could smell her burnt fur,” said Jane Brister, from Fauna Rescue. “It would have been hot in there.”
Although the koala was uninjured, Brister said the animal was a lactating mother, which meant her joey, or infant, was missing.
“I searched that night and the next day, and the next, but I never found it,” she said. After a couple of days of feeding in captivity, Brister released the koala back into the wild.
Koalas, often inaccurately described as bears, are marsupials – an order of mammals whose young are suckled in a pouch.
The koala was listed as a vulnerable species under an Australian conservation law in 2012. There are fewer than 100,000 of the animals in the wild, and perhaps even as few as 43,000, according to Australian Koala Foundation estimates.
Earlier this week, three kittens remarkably survived a 311 mile journey stowed away under the bonnet of a car after hitching a ride from the Netherlands to the UK.
The trio – named Edam, Gouda and Tulip by rescuers – were discovered after Christian Lampkin and his family had driven from a holiday park in Eindhoven to Bracknell, Berkshire.
Two days after arriving home, Lampkin heard meowing and looked under the bonnet, where he found the kittens.
“I had a look under the bonnet, there were two cats there, but they shot back into the engine,” he said. When Lampkin called mechanics to get the cats out of the car,…