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Scottish SPCA rehabilitates and releases youngest red squirrels in area of conservation  

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Red squirrels released

We have released five red squirrels that came into the care of our National Wildlife Rescue Centre when they were just hours old.

We were handed the newborns by a member of the public after their nest was suspected to have been blown out of a tree in Fife on 29 July.

The squirrels weighed just 12 grams each when they arrived and required hourly feeding. Animal care assistant Juanita Zaldua took on the mammoth responsibility of providing the kits with round-the-clock care.

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Red squirrels released

Juanita said, “It was touch and go for a while, we weren’t sure if they were going to make it. Kits that young should be with their mum and require dedicated specialist care.

“I had to feed them every hour, even through the night, for the first three weeks. In the third week they opened their eyes which made the sleep-deprivation worthwhile!

“They continued to stay with me while I hand-reared them. Once they had weaned at around nine-weeks, they were strong enough to go out in to the aviary where they learned to interact and play.

“We recently released them in an area of the Highlands where conservationists are trying to increase the population of red squirrels.

“We were all very sad to see them go but it was so rewarding to be able to raise them and watch them be released back to their natural habitat. I was like a proud mum watching her babies enter the big wide world!

“The environment they now live in has nest boxes, support feeding and they are being monitored as we get closer to the colder months.

“We were over the moon to be sent footage of our squirrels jumping from tree to tree and feeding well.”

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Red squirrels released

Wildlife manager, Steve Gray said, “Scotland is home to three quarters of the UK’s population of red squirrels. It’s estimated there are around 120,000.

“They were once found all over Scotland but are now concentrated up north or around Tayside.

“The emergence of non-native grey squirrels did have a big impact on the number of reds due to competition and disease. But the decline is also down to human activity as many of the red squirrel’s habitats have been destroyed for development.

“There are some incredible groups such as Scottish Wildlife Trust, Nature Scotland, Trees for Life and Red Squirrel Survival Trust that are working across the country to try and increase the number of red squirrels and we, of course, will do what we can to help.

“The main aim of the National Wildlife Rescue Centre is to rehabilitate wild animals and release them back in to the wild where they belong. This was an especially important release as it’s helping to preserve the red squirrel population in Scotland for years to come.”


Visit www.scottishspca.org/wildlifewise for information on what to do if you find a wild animal. Always check for advice before removing them from their habitat. People can reach our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

If anyone is concerned about an animal, please do not hesitate to contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

 

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