A little orphaned squirrel has branched out into the world of television after being forced to leave his nest.
Billy, a red squirrel from Insch, was found at only five days old after the tree containing his nest was cut down.
As part of BBC Two’s wildlife series Natural World, the Aberdeenshire squirrel’s story from orphan to rehabilitation was told in an episode titled The Super Squirrels.
In a nutshell, the documentary follows the key developments in the woodland creature’s life before he was eventually released back into the wild.
Billy was rehabilitated at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross under the personal care of Sheelagh McAllister.
Centre manager Colin Seddon said: “Billy was hand-reared by Sheelagh, our head of large mammals, before being released back into the wild.
“Sheelagh is our most experienced red squirrel rearer and Billy had to be fed by syringe every few hours.
“He opened his eyes at around five weeks old, and that’s the same time the weaning process began.”
Without his mother or siblings to interact with, Sheelagh played a key part in helping Billy practice his grip – a key skill needed to help him climb trees.
He was also able to socialise with a fellow rescue red squirrel, Annie, from Inverness.
Colin added: “Billy stayed in our care until he was completely independent.
“Nesting season for both squirrels and birds is well under way, so we urge people to take care when cutting down trees or trimming hedges. It’s best to check for nests first to avoid any accidents.”
At 15 weeks old, the squirrel was bright-eyed and bushy tailed – and ready to take on the wild.
Sheelagh said although the situation started as a hard nut to crack, Billy made great progress in becoming a fully independent adult squirrel.
She said: “Billy really came along well and he’s had quite a journey. He’s proved he’s a wee champion.”
The documentary also highlighted the species is threatened and 75% of the UK’s remaining red squirrels are found in Scotland.