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Scottish SPCA name their most unusual rescues of 2019

By Kirsty Brown

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The Scottish SPCA - Scotland's leading animal welfare charity - has spoken about some of the more unusual rescues that they were involved in during 2019...

Otter-ly adorable!

In November, we got a call after an otter was spotted on a street in Inverurie.

A brave member of the public picked up the male otter early on a Monday morning from a street quite near the river - we suspect mother and pup were separated by flooding which is quite common in wet weather - and he was taken to a local vet who contacted us.

Our inspector Amanda Watson took the pup to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre where he will stay until he is a year old as that's how long otters stay with their mothers in the wild.

She said: "It was the most adorable encounter I've had on a Monday morning in a long time!"

Snake on a plane!

In February, a woman in Bridge of Allan found a stowaway snake in her suitcase after her holiday to Australia.

The snake had slithered into the luggage and journeyed over 20 hours on a plane and ended up in the town in Stirling.

Animal rescue officer Taylor Johnstone responded to a call from the woman who had just returned from down under and when Taylor arrived the snake had been contained so was safely removed from the house.

It turned out the snake was a spotted python which is not venomous, thankfully!

The serpent was taken to the Edinburgh Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre and was then transported to the National Centre for Reptile Welfare in Kent, and he is now part of the teaching programme and helps students with their snake handling.

Cockatiel almost carried away but hid away in takeaway!

A cockatiel was found taking refuge in a McDonald’s cup as he was being attacked by a group of magpies.

Senior animal rescue officer Jan Toraman responded to a call from a member of the public who reported the cockatiel, named McDonald after his experience, in his sorry situation.

The poor bird was cowering under the fast-food cup after the corvids decided he was an easy target, so Jan came to his rescue and took him to our centre in Glasgow to recuperate.

He was a bit dishevelled and nervous when he first arrived but soon came out of his shell.

McDonald was paired with another cockatiel and they found their loving forever home together.

Non-native eagle-owl found in Airdrie

A member of the public called the charity's animal helpline to report an owl sitting on their doorstep as they were concerned he was injured but weren’t keen to check due to his intimidating size.

Animal rescue officer, Kirsty Baird, thought this was unusual as our native tawny or barn owls are small and not very threatening!

When Kirsty arrived, the owl had been moved to a large shed at the back of the garden.

Kirsty got a big surprise when she walked in and saw an eagle-owl sitting on the plank.

They are not native to Scotland so she did not expect to see one - not something you see often in Airdrie!

The rare bird was quite weak and disorientated and was relatively easy to catch for such a big bird.

After care and recuperation, he went to live with a falconer where he gets plenty of stimulation and exercise, and you can even follow him on Instagram at @grimmtheeagleowl.

Swan carries cygnets to safety!

In Glasgow, senior animal rescue officer Jan Toraman attended the canal basin at Lock 27 in Anniesland after a member of the public phoned about cygnets being separated from their parents.

The two parents and their six babies were originally in the high water but due to the basin dropping, two of their cygnets had slipped down into the water below.

Mum managed to get to the lower water but couldn’t lead her babies back up to where the male and the rest of the cygnets were.

Mum put the babies on her back and tucked them under her wings, something Jan had never seen before!

To get them back to the higher level, Jan lay a trail of food to encourage mum to follow.

The family was successfully reunited and the parents swam their six babies safely away from the lock.

Seal of approval for rescue of adventurous pup

The charity were called to the unusual rescue of a seal pup in a Greenock carpark in November - the pup had managed to get up the harbour steps, along the promenade and into the carpark.

Senior animal rescue officer Jan Toraman said: "The fact the seal managed to negotiate these obstacles was incredible!

"The pup was very young, aged between two and three weeks old.

"We suspect the pup became separated from mum and took to the water out of desperation and got swept back in by the current.

"It’s likely that the young seal was exhausted which is why it came up the harbour stairs and into the dangerous location.

"Greenock police were incredibly helpful and ensured the seal was safe until we arrived.

"The poor thing was severely underweight so we immediately took it to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to receive the care she needed.

"They named the pup Dot-to-Dot.

"She has put on weight and we plan on releasing her very soon when the weather improves."

Deer duel unravelled

We received a call in March about two stags in Wigtownshire entangled in discarded electric fencing - it looked like they had been rutting and somehow the wire had bound them together.

They were unable to escape and were struggling to break free causing distress, and most likely pain, to each animal.

Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer Sheena MacTaggart attended the event in Wigtownshire, and she said: “This pair were very lucky to have been spotted by a member of the public who realised something wasn’t right.

“With help from one of our inspectors, we were able to free the pair and release them back into the nearby forest.

“We can’t say how long they had been intertwined for but we do know they would never have been able to untangle themselves without our help.

“They are both doing well.

"To this day they are still seen around Newton Stewart, as one lost an antler in the process so is easy to identify.”

The spider spied her!

In June, the tarantula got a report of a tarantula in a bin in West Lothian!

An unsuspecting member of the public was putting rubbish in their wheelie bin and found a tarantula sitting on top of black bags.

After a frantic call to the animal helpline, senior animal rescue officer Sarah Auldsmith attended the address and safely collected the poisonous spider.

When tarantulas shed their exoskeleton they can appear deceased as they don't move, and when we heard from the owner this is exactly what had happened!

Please be aware that your arachnid friend might not be dead, just shedding!

Fox rescued from Water of Leith

In the summer, the Scottish SPCA were alerted to a fox that had fallen into the Water of Leith in Edinburgh.

It was staying afloat on the debris and rubbish that had collected on the surface, but the poor fox had become exhausted trying to get out of the water.

With the help of the Fire Service and Coastguard, the charity reached the fox using a boat and took him to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre for much needed rest and recovery.

He was released back into the wild three days later, and a big clean-up was done on the water of Leith due to this rescue which is of huge benefit to the wildlife and aquatic creatures in the area.

Fake snake!

In November, senior animal rescue officer Jan Toraman was urgently called to an address in Newton Mearns to rescue a stray snake from a garden.

The caller reported that the snake had been in the garden all morning and they had managed to contain it under a bucket.

She arrived at the property and headed into the garden, cautiously approached the bucket and carefully uncovered the snake...and it turned out it was a children’s plastic toy!

There was nothing to worry about, it was a fake snake!

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