One moment she was fast asleep, the next she was awake with the realisation that an animal was sitting on her chest and clawing at her face.
Mary Small, 68, at first thought it was a visiting cat that had climbed on to her duvet.
But then she saw that the animal peering inquisitively down at her was a fox. The grandmother screamed and leapt from her bed.
The intruder, a cub, fled and was eventually chased out of the house by her husband Tony.
The incident comes after a number of fox attacks and is just the latest example of how the animals are losing their fear of humans.
Last June, nine-month-old twins Lola and Isabella Koupparis were mauled in their cot in East London.
Shortly afterwards, Jake Jermy, three, was bitten on the arm at a playgroup party in Brighton and earlier this year an ambulance worker in Worthing, West Sussex told how a fox entered her house through the cat flap and bit off the end of her finger.
Mrs Small, a magistrate, said yesterday: “I thought it was a cat at first when I felt it clawing at my face. But when I opened my eyes and saw this fox, I was pretty shaken up to say the least.
“Obviously things look bigger when they are closer to you, so it looked enormous when I came around.
“I just leapt from the covers and screamed, I’ve never moved so quickly. The scariest thing was it just appeared to be so fearless.”
Mrs Small said she had been terrified by the incident at their Victorian property in Bournville, Birmingham.
She added: “Tony’s first instinct was to grab his camera rather than see if I was okay. He got a good picture of the fox in our upstairs study.
“You can see it peeping out from behind the leather chair, it was a cheeky so and so. Even when we finally got it out of the house, it was pawing at the windows to come back in.
“They seem to have lost their fear of humans now, it is quite concerning. They carry diseases too so I had to disinfect the whole house afterwards.”
The fox had somehow crept into the couple’s kitchen, through their lounge and up the stairs at their home either around 6.15am on Sunday morning or the evening before, the family believe.
“After seeing the stories about people being bitten in London, I think I was quite lucky in the end,” said Mrs Small. The fox must have got in when Tony went outside for his pipe or the night before.
“It was very scary and I was pretty upset.
“With the developments around here there seems less green space for them to roam about in, so they seem to be getting braver and braver when it comes to interaction with people.”
Her husband, 69, added: “Mary was terrified. She’s paranoid about foxes. We quite often get cats coming inside but not foxes.”
He said the animal must have been only a few months old because it was only about 2ft long.
The RSPCA said fox attacks on humans were extremely rare.
A spokesman added: “Foxes are opportunists, searching for and defending areas with suitable food and shelter. They learn to trust people who are not causing them harm.” - Daily Mail