Countryside rangers have urged visitors to a picturesque north-east woodland to stop leaving food for squirrels as the free feasts have been attracting rats.
Aberdeen City Council has received reports of a number of sightings of the rodents during the day around Carnie Woods near Westhill
As a result feeders put up by the public in the woodland are being removed to help address the problem as it’s feared they could spread disease to humans living and working nearby.
Keen wildlife enthusiasts have been known to leave food out for the area’s playful red squirrels in order to capture the perfect photo.
But the rangers say at this time of year there is already plenty of food naturally available to them including pinecones, nuts, fruits and seeds.
Ranger Ian Talboys said small quantities of food are still fine to leave out for anyone hoping to get the chance to see some wild animals up close, but bigger volumes can pose issues.
He said: “We would ask people not to put out large amounts of food for the squirrels or birds, as it is not necessary to support sustainable populations of birds or squirrels in the woods.
“Putting out small quantities is fine to attract the animals in to watch or photograph them, and we know a lot of people get enjoyment from this.
“The large amounts that have been put out in recent weeks are causing concerns.
“With residential and business premises so close to the woods, we don’t want the rats to move closer to where people live or work and cause problems or damage property.
“Rats do carry diseases which are harmful to people, too.”
Although Carnie Woods is in Aberdeenshire, the city council’s ranger service tends to them due to historical ties in the area predating current local authority boundaries.
The rangers are intending to remove the feeders that have been set up around Carnie Woods very soon and have urged any residents who want to keep their feeders to remove it themselves over the next week.
The rangers believe that without these in place, the rats will leave the area.
Mr Talboys continued: “Hopefully be removing the food source they are exploiting at the moment, they will disperse to the wider countryside.”