A badger has been rescued from a military fox hole after falling into the pit and spending hours trying to claw itself out.
The struggling animal was discovered inside a gun trench at a shooting range near Blackdog, on the outskirts of Aberdeen, when a member of the public was alarmed by the anguished squealing sound it was making.
The wooden beams inside the hole showed signs of being scratched as the desperate young male tried to escape its predicament.
Upon realising that the strange sounds were coming from a stuck badger, the woman called the New Arc animal sanctuary and a rescue operation was quickly arranged.
Co-founder of the charity, Keith Marley, said the mammal would not have survived another 24 hours in the trench.
And he revealed that the majority of the pits at the rifle range were filled with water, so the animal was lucky not to have drowned by falling into one of those.
Mr Marley said: “It is a very, very fortunate badger. It would not have made another day in there.”
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When the team from New Arc arrived, the badger began to “play possum”, a tactic they use when they are injured or feel threatened.
The rescue group gently placed a loop around its neck and its front feet, and were able to gradually pull it to freedom.
Mr Marley said the badger still appeared to be “in good enough condition” despite its ordeal and after checking it over, it was decided that it could be released back into the wild rather than taken back to the charity’s base near Ellon for treatment.
He warned people not to get into a a fox hole with a badger, as they can be ill-tempered.