A red squirrel at a conservation centre in Norfolk has stunned wardens by producing her 48th kitten.
Affectionately named Tortoiseshell, the seven-year-old squirrel has proved to be one of the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust's greatest success stories, producing her littlers since 2008.
Tortoiseshell and her former partner Tweedledum were considered one of the most successful breeding pairs in the Trust’s history, but when Tweedledum died in 2012 there was concern she might never breed again.
But Tortoiseshell’s latest match with new partner Bryn has produced three new kittens - two male and one female.
Wardens predict that the kittens were born between late February and early March They venture from the drey after 6 to 7 weeks and are fully weaned by 10 weeks old.
Chrissie Kelley, Head of Species Management for the Trust and Coordinator for the East Anglian Red Squirrel group said “Red squirrels only survive in a handful of locations in the UK, which is why we’re so fortunate to have successful breeding pairs here at Pensthorpe.
"By having her here we can highlight the beauty and character of this enigmatic species by capturing the imagination of our visitors and educating them on their plight.”
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