A class of primary school pupils in Muirhouse have been hand rearing a pair of meerkat pups.
Six weeks ago St Brendan’s primary P2 teacher Colette McLauchlan introduced Petal and Blossom to her class.
This came after the two sisters had been rejected by their mother Tablet at the Little Critters centre in Stirling which Mrs McLauchlan runs with her husband.
For the pups to have any change of survival they would need to be hand reared, but with her husband busy with other jobs at the centre Mrs Mclaughlan had no choice but to take them to school with her.
She said: “Their dad Toffee tried his best to get Tablet to take an interest in their young, but it was no use and when my husband found them outside the nest we feared the worst.
“They needed to be fed every hour so I though maybe the children could help and they were all very excited to get involved.
“I thought it would be a unique opportunity and without doubt the children saved their lives, now at six weeks they are thriving and the vet is very happy with their progress.
“Some schools might have a rabbit or a guinea pig in class, but I bet we are the only one in Scotland to have meerkats.“
Petal and Blossom have now moved onto solid food to supplement their milk diet and Mrs McLaughlan is now glad she can get some sleep.
She said: “I take them home with me every night and thankfully they will now sleep through the night, it was a bit of a struggle for a few weeks getting up every hour to feed them.”
Petal and Blossom are clearly very relaxed around the children, but Mrs McLauchlan warned anyone thinking they’d like to adopt these members of the mongoose family.
She said: “Meerkats may look lovable, but they don’t make good pets, our two are fine with being handled by the children because they are so used to it, but meerkats can be quite aggressive and are known to bite.”
The pups will be fully grown at around six months, but Mrs McLaughlan admits she doesn’t know what the future will hold.
She said: “To be honest we haven’t really thought about it as we didn’t know if they would survive, we’ll just have to look at it when they are old enough and maybe they move on to another animal centre or zoo.
“The children at St Brendan’s have given them the best start in life and I’m sure that wherever they go they will now thrive.”