If you have a cat stuck up a tree, or a chimp up a chimney, the fire brigade should not be the first people you call, fire chiefs said today.
London Fire Brigade is concerned that it is having to deal with a rising number of animal rescues, with crews called out on average every 14 hours to deal with a creature in trouble last year.
Fire crews in the capital had to rescue 620 animals last year, a 60% increase over six years, and have already had to deal with more calls in the first half of this year than the same period in 2011.
Unusual rescues in recent years include a chimp in a chimney, a parrot trapped in its cage, an iguana stuck on a roof and a hamster trapped in a disabled lift.
Fire crews have also had to capture a snake at a retirement home and rescue a kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum.
The fire brigade is highlighting some of its more bizarre animal call-outs as part of a campaign to encourage people to keep an eye on their pets, and warn the public that they should not necessarily call 999 to help animals.
Fire chiefs want to dispel the stereotype of firefighters rescuing cats from trees, saying that if an animal is stuck somewhere the public should always call the RSPCA first.
Currently more than half the animal rescues fire crews are called to in London involve cats and around a quarter are to help dogs in distress.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "If there is a cat up a tree, or an animal stuck anywhere, the first port of call should always be the RSPCA, not the emergency services.
"Pet owners need to keep a close eye on their animals in a bid to avoid some of these situations happening. Each animal rescue costs money and in these tough financial times, many people question why their taxes are being spent on some of the animal rescues we've highlighted today."
Klare Kennett, of the RSPCA, said the animal welfare charity advised people to call them first and if they needed help they called the fire brigade.
London fire brigade had to rescue an iguana from a roof in Tower Hamlets in May 2007.
London fire brigade had to rescue a parrot trapped in its cage in Waltham Forest in January 2008.
London fire brigade had to rescue a dog stuck in a wheelchair in a flat in Richmond in May 2008
London fire brigade were called to rescue a puppy with its head stuck in an exercise machine in a house in Hillingdon in April 2008
London fire brigade were called to rescue a kitten with its head stuck in a bongo drum in Newham in October 2009
London fire brigade were called to capture a snake at a retirement home in Hounslow in July 2009
London fire brigade were called to help two dogs in a toilet in Bromley in July 2009
London fire brigade were called to a chimp in a chimney in Tower Hamlets in January 2010
London fire brigade were called to an adult hamster trapped in a disabled lift in Greenwich in April 2010
London fire brigade were called to a kitten trapped in a reclining chair in Croydon in May 2012