THREE orphaned otters have been released back into the wild in the Highlands by the Scottish SPCA.
The trio, named Eddy, Stream and Smoult, have spent the past few months rehabilitating at the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross in Clackmannanshire.
With the landowner’s permission, the SSPCA was able to release the otters into a freshwater loch at a secret location on Woodland Trust property on October 19.
Centre manager Colin Seddon said: "We were successfully able to release Eddy, Stream and Smoult into the Highlands after they spent several months in our care.
"All three otters were orphaned as youngsters and came into the centre at around eight to 10 weeks old.
"They were hand reared by staff who even had to play with them individually to prevent boredom before they were introduced to each other.
"There are many factors that need to be met before we can release otters back into the wild - the weather, site location, otter population in the area and landowners’ permission. All of these must be in place to ensure the best chance of survival.
"With help from the Woodland trust we were able to access the remote release site in the Highlands in order to successfully release the otters. Without their help we would not have been able to access this site.
"Support feeding and shelter has been provided for Eddy, Stream and Smoult and they will be monitored using camera traps in the hope we will get some feedback about how well these otters are doing.
"This method was successfully used last year, at a release on Mull, and those otters are still doing well several months after their release."
He added: "Anyone who finds an otter cub that is calling for its mother should at first observe from a distance, providing the cub is in a safe position.
"If the mother does not return before dark then the cub will need to be brought into our care.
"If the cub appears in anyway injured or ill please call our animal helpline immediately and contain the otter if possible."
The SSPCA has cared for 105 otters since opening its Fishcross centre in 2012, 96 of which were cubs.
• Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed wild animal should call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.