Better red than dead! Baby Nutkin grows up...and goes wild

By Tom Harper

Prince Charles the Red Squirrel is ready to return to the wild after being found having fallen from of the nest

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the squirrel dubbed ‘Baby Nutkin’ shows how he has made a remarkable recovery since he was abandoned to the mercy of predators just a few months ago.

The tiny red squirrel kitten, nicknamed after Beatrix Potter’s much-loved children’s story, was close to death when he was found.

Unable to fend for himself or forage for food, he would have soon died if an animal-lover hadn’t spotted him cowering in a garden at Great Ormside in Cumbria.

In April, The Mail on Sunday told how the squirrel was being hand-reared by conservation workers at the Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group.

Now the five-month-old is back to full health and has taken tentative steps into the wild.

Last week, he was released into the 18,000-acre Lowther estate in Cumbria, which is full of scots pine and larch trees – a favourite of red squirrels.

Survivor's tail: Baby Nutikin has made a full recovery with the help of Sarach McNeil who runs Red Squirrel Group

Sarah McNeil, who runs the Red Squirrel Group, said: ‘I was a bit worried he had become tame and would not survive in the wild. But I spotted him last Friday just two days after his release and he was running and leaping around with six other red squirrels.

‘Later on I saw him again munching on a larch cone. I couldn’t believe it – I’m on such a high.’

How the Mail on Sunday first told of his plight

He is one of only 150,000 red squirrels left in Britain. Carers gave him the more ‘proper’ name of Charles after the Prince of Wales – a red squirrel lover.

His obvious good health is a far cry from his condition when he was first delivered to the squirrel sanctuary. He needed round-the-clock care and lived in a 4ft by 3ft rat cage with moss, leaves and pampas grass to imitate a drey, or nest.

A month later Charles moved to a bigger pen 10ft tall, 30ft long and 5ft wide, and was fed special milk called Lactol.

The milk, containing high levels of protein and fat, came in powder form and was mixed with warm water and fed to Charles through a 2ml syringe.

Eventually, Charles recovered enough to move to a pen where he started eating nuts and sunflower seeds in preparation for his return to the wild.

Miss McNeil, 46, said: ‘I am so glad he has acclimatised to the woodland. I was a bit worried he was tame because he used to scamper all over me. But we got him used to doing things for himself and it seems to have worked out.’

source: dailymail