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Rescue centre Christmas

The occupants of the Scottish SPCA's Balerno refuge sound like a variation on The Twelve Days of Christmas.

In this tune, on the fourth day of Christmas, your paramour would bring you a love bird, a bearded lizard, an albino ferret called Alban and a Muscovy duck with Mexican ancestry.

This song does not have a happy ending, however. All these creatures were abandoned, to be cared for by the Edinburgh and Lothian's Animal Rescue centre. The charity is so concerned about the reckless Christmas gifting of pets that it has imposed a moratorium on rehousing homeless animals from any of its 10 pet shelters until after the New Year, when it feels people may be better able to make a considered decision. The desire to select an exciting or unusual present can lead people to make all kinds of foolish decisions, but getting it wrong does not usually lead to more than thinly disguised looks of disappointment.

It is different with living creatures. It is better to check that an animal will really be wanted. Until then, we recommend you stick to leaping lords, dancing ladies or drumming drummers. And for our readers in Fife: gold rings.

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