A lonely duckling separated from its family at birth has been saved thanks to a mirror – which has become its only friend.
Seven-day-old Alice was taken to a rescue centre after being mauled by a gull at just one day old.
But the bird was in an agitated state and refused to eat because of the stress of being separated from its siblings.
So quick-thinking keepers installed a mirror which tricks Alice into thinking its reflection is actually another duckling.
Now it happily huddles up to the mirror for companionship – and even ”talks” to it.
Liz Dyas, of Devon Wildlife Visitor Centre, near Newton Abbot, Devon, said: ”If we remove the mirror it goes absolutely crazy and squawks and complains until we put it back.
”The duckling regularly wanders up to the mirror and pecks at it, licks it and is constantly happily chirruping away.
”It is very common for ducklings to die once separated from the flock and we’re amazed at the change in condition.
”The duckling was withdrawn, not eating and in quite a bad way when it arrived. But the transformation is incredible.
”It’s really sweet to watch it nestling against the mirror.”
The duckling was brought to the centre four days ago by an RSPCA inspector who rescued it after being mauled by a gull in Torquay, Devon.
It was named Alice after the character in Through the Looking Glass but is still too young to sex.
Staff feared that the stress of separation from its siblings could become fatal if she continued to refuse food.
But since installing the small vanity mirror three days ago, Alice has started eating and happily chirrups around its pen.
Keepers expect the animal to make a full recovery before being released into the wild within the next few months.