HEARTWARMING pictures have captured an adorable baby squirrel which was rescued after the tree it was nesting in was chopped down.
The one-week-old red squirrel was rescued when its nest was discovered by a member of the public in a felled tree in Insh, Aberdeenshire.
The tiny rodent was was discovered on March 13 by the Scottish SPCA and has been named ‘Billy’ by its rescuers.
Red squirrels are becoming increasingly rare in the UK, with numbers falling from a one time high of around 3.5 million to their current estimated population of around 120,000.
‘Billy’ will be cared for at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire until he’s strong enough to be released back into the wild.
He requires feeding every few hours and is being hand reared by the centre’s Head of Large Mammals, Sheelagh McAllister.
The adorable pictures of the newborn squirrel show it being fed milk via a syringe whilst it clings on to Sheelagh’s thumb.
It’s no longer than an index finger as another snap shows it with milk over its mouth and its eyes shut.
A final photo shows ‘Billy’ not long after he was discovered, in a makeshift nest, curled up in a ball as he sleeps.
The rescue centre manager Colin Seddon said: “Billy is currently being hand reared by Sheelagh who is our most experienced red squirrel rearer and Billy currently needs fed by syringe every few hours.
“He should open his eyes at around five weeks old, and that’s the same time the weaning process will begin.
“Billy will remain in our care until he is completely independent. Ideally, he’ll be part of a group of red squirrels that can be returned to the wild together, at a supported release site.
“Nesting season for both squirrels and birds is well underway so we urge people to take care when cutting down trees/trimming hedges. It’s best to check for nests first to avoid any accidents.”
Fewer than 120,000 red squirrels remain in Scotland with just around 15,000 estimated to be left south of the border.
It is feared that without urgent action, the species may disappear from British shores within a generation.
Reasons for the decline in population include predators and viruses but the introduction of grey squirrels from America is the main reason behind the fall in numbers.
Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed wild animal should call the SSPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.