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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Squirrels thrive for 'foster mum'
Pauline Kerr feeding squirrel
Pauline Kerr has been raising the three tiny squirrels
A woman has become "foster mother" to three baby red squirrels left homeless when the tree their drey was in was chopped down in the Borders.

Pauline Kerr, 62, from Coldingham, feeds the squirrels eight times a day with a milk replacement in a syringe.

She stepped in after forestry workers accidentally chopped down the tree and the squirrels' mother went missing.

The area's red squirrel conservation officer recommended that they be placed in Ms Kerr's round-the-clock care.

The animals were just a couple of days old when they lost their home near Alnwick, in Northumberland.

I manage to get four hours of sleep a night during feeds - but they are such tiny beautiful creatures and are worth all the effort
Pauline Kerr

They have been progressing well in their new surroundings.

"I have now had them a fortnight and they have quadrupled in size," said Ms Kerr.

"I am afraid they might be becoming obese so I have cut the number of feeds from nine to eight times a day.

"They are lying in an incubator in the house thinking they are in the Costa Del Sol but once I believe they are ready they will be returning to the wild."

Ms Kerr admits that looking after the animals has not been easy.

"It is hard work and it is just like being a mother again," she said.

Baby squirrels
The squirrels spend most of their time in an incubator

"I manage to get four hours of sleep a night during feeds - but they are such tiny beautiful creatures and are worth all the effort."

It appears that Ms Kerr's loving care has paid off.

"They still lie in the palm of my hand but they are much bigger and have cute little faces," she said.

"Their red fur has started to come in now too which is a relief as I was worried in case they were greys after all."

Ms Kerr has christened her new pets Jasper, Daisy and Rosie and they are expected to open their eyes in four weeks' time.

Protected species

Richard Wales, red squirrel conservation officer for the Scottish Borders, has praised Ms Kerr.

"I don't personally know of anyone else who has done it," he said.

"Pauline is doing a fantastic job and one of the reasons I asked her to do it was because she has red squirrels in her garden so we hope that the females will go on to have kittens of their own.

"The intention is to put denning boxes out so that they can feed themselves but still have a bolthole to go to if they feel unsafe."

Red squirrels are a protected species but the incident in which the tree containing the drey was chopped down is being treated as an accident.

The tiny red squirrels were taken to an animal refuge centre at Berwick-upon-Tweed and Mr Wales was then called in.




SEE ALSO
Red squirrel dies from deadly pox
11 May 07 |  South of Scotland
'Wall' to protect red squirrels
20 Sep 06 |  South of Scotland
Town going nuts for squirrel TV
16 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland

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