A man is nursing a poorly red squirrel back to health – with digestive biscuits and fruit smoothies.
Noel Hawkins, 50, was alerted to the tiny critter after a school pupil found it injured by the side of the road in Ullapool in the Highlands.
He took it in on November 12 and him and his partner Janis Patterson believe the creature – which they named Ted – may have been struck by a car or fell from a tree, as he has an injured paw.
It is feared Ted may have suffered brain damage in which case he will be kept as a pet.
Noel, who is a volunteer with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, has received advice from a physiotherapist and a squirrel expert in Perth.
The dad-of-three said: “A kid found it when they got off the school bus.
“Normally I’m dealing with whales and dolphins but we’ll try and help anything.
“We took it in and assumed a car had hit it or it had fallen out of a tree.
“He looked like a dead squirrel at first but now he’s bouncing about.
“There was a reintroduction programme in 2009, that’s why it was quite a big deal to try and save him.”
Noel and Janis have been feeding Ted three times a day with cat milk, mashed up digestive biscuits and fruit smoothies with strawberries, apple, sunflower seeds and pine and hazelnuts to build his strength back up.
Ted is being kept in a ferret cage with hay bedding and a fleece hat to help keep him warm.
They hope to release the young squirrel back into the wild, but are concerned he may have suffered brain damage.
Noel said: “We initially gave him some cordial water to get some sugar in him, then we got some advice from a squirrel expert in Perth.
“We’ve also had a physiotherapist in as his right paw was knackered.
“He’s been recovering well physically but we’re worried he might have some neurological damage as he’s not feeding very well.
‘We were hoping to release him into the wild but we’ll keep him in over the winter and try and release him in the spring.’Noel Hawkins
“We were hoping to release him into the wild but we’ll keep him in over the winter and try and release him in the spring.
“If not then he’ll stay in captivity or I could end up with a pet squirrel.
“We’re fairly optimistic but it’s a bit touch and go.
“We’re hand feeding him with a syringe but we’re trying to get him to eat on his own.”
The tiny squirrel ended up being called Ted after Noel tweeted about the creature and red squirrel autocorrected as “Ted”.
The name’s stuck and Ted’s recovery has attracted widespread attention online.
Noel added: “We’ve got people from America and Australia following his progress.”