Tiny baby mice births in West Lothian bring hope for the future of their species
Incredible pictures show a tiny harvest mouse perched on a sunflower - as conservationists celebrated the birth of the critically endangered animal.
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Staff at Almond Valley Heritage Centre, in West Lothian, were delighted when a nest of harvest mice was born earlier this month.
The mice – each just the size of a 20p piece - are classed as near threatened in the UK and critically endangered in Scotland because of generations of changes to farming and land management across the country which has led to a loss of habitat.
Farm manager, Craig Holmes, 33, said four of five harvest mice had been born - the first to be bred at the centre which is home to a variety of rare breed animals.
Craig said: "We think there are four or five babies, it's hard to tell as they move around so fast.
"They were born around three weeks ago, but we only started to see them come out last week.
"They are about the size of a 20p - if one was standing on its back legs, it would be able to hide behind the coin.
"It's the first ones we have bred at the centre which is important because of how rare they are and that's there are such low numbers of them in Scotland.
"They are incredibly cute but have been classed as near threatened in the UK and critically endangered in Scotland by the IUCN-approved Red List of British Mammals "There are programmes to reintroduce them into the wild around the UK so we are delighted to have the babies born here."