Horrified animal charity rescues horde of 18 hamsters that were destined to be EATEN
- A nosey dog sniffed out the 18 Syrian and 2 dwarf hamsters in a Darlington street
- Rodents had been hidden in single takeaway containers and then shoe boxes
- One of the animals was completely blind with just two yellow stubs for eyes
A horrified animal charity has rescued a horde of 18 hamsters that were left cruelly stored in tiny takeaway boxes after being bred as live snake food.
A dog walker was shocked to discover the 18 Syrian and two dwarf hamsters, each in a separate plastic food box, on Park Crescent in Darlington.
The vast majority of the animals have now been adopted, while the rest are being cared for by a charity.
All the containers had been placed in several shoe boxes, which kept the rodents out of sight from passers by.
Luckily, the dog walker was alerted to the abandoned hamsters when their pet took an interest in the boxes on Sunday.
Pictured: Two of the hamsters after being rescued by an animal charity in Darlington on Sunday
In each container there was sawdust and an empty plastic bottle cap, which it is assumed once contained water, while air holes had been punched in the lids.
The dog walker contacted the National Animal Sanctuaries Support League (NASSL) – an animal rescue charity based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham and Darlington.
Jamie Leaver, who works for NASSL, attended the scene and said: ‘It was heartbreaking to see the conditions that they were in, I felt sick to my stomach.
‘I don’t know how long they had been left in those filthy containers, but the smell from each was horrific. They were ripe with mould and damp.
‘An especially distressing moment was when we discovered one of the hamsters, a female, was in fact completely blind. She just had these yellow lumps where her eyes should be.
One of the hamsters can be seen after it was placed in a takeaway box in Darlington
‘We believe that due to terrible breeding practices, such as interbreeding or poor housing conditions, she had been born without them. She had gone on to have multiple litters herself.’
Once transported to safety at the NASSL base, each hamster was immediately removed from the container and placed into appropriate housing.
Although the NASSL team have no evidence as to the origins of the rodents, or the reason they were ruthlessly abandoned, they believe that these animals were bred as snake food.
Jamie said: ‘It looked at though the hamsters had been specially selected to be disposed of. They were all male except three, and they were old females – all of which would be useless to breeders.
‘It’s sickening to think that these hamsters siblings or children could be still out there meeting a horrible fate.’
Pauline Wilson, who founded NASSL in 1993 said: ‘We haven’t come across something like this before, it’s unusual to get 20 hamsters in the same situation.
‘Just before Christmas we rescued nine hamsters in a back street.
In each container there was one hamster (pictured), sawdust and an empty plastic bottle cap, which it is assumed once contained water, while air holes had been punched in the lids
‘There are more males than females which is very unusual so maybe they did belong to a breeder and they have kept some of the females but I could speculate until the cows come home.’
Knowing the pressure of rehabilitating and re-homing 20 animals, Ms Leaver reached out fellow animal rescue organisation Deliverance, which stepped in quickly to help care for the hamsters and the re-homing process.
In just one day, only four hamsters remain up for adoption. They include two young males, one elderly female dwarf hamster and the blind female.
Jamie added: ‘The elderly dwarf keeps getting overlooked, because the truth is she might only have months left to live.
‘The blind hamster needs a truly special home, with someone who is able to handle her complex needs and currently we are still searching for that.
‘Every adoption however has strict rules, and a house visit from the team, to ensure these animals are going to safe and suitable homes.’
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