Hamster in a coffee tin sparks fears of lockdown pet neglect

Animal rescuers fear an epidemic of dumped ‘starter’ pets bought during the pandemic lockdown.

Saturday, 24th October 2020, 12:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 24th October 2020, 12:36 pm
Homer the hamster was dumped in the street in a coffee container

Animal rescuers fear an epidemic of dumped ‘starter’ pets bought during the pandemic lockdown.

The alarm was raised after a hamster abandoned in a coffee container was handed into the care of staff at a Fylde coast RSPCA rescue centre.

The animal charity believes the pets were bought to cheer up children during the height of the first wave of the pandemic.

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However, many of the animals became neglected by the new pet owners ignorant of their complex needs and the costs of feeding and caring for them.

Hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits are the animals most likely to suffer neglect.

The message comes as the RSPCA reveals it dealt with 267 incidents involving small furry pets - including rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters - in Lancashire last year.

Homer, a Roborovski hamster was abandoned on the street in Blackpool inside a plastic coffee canister.

He is now living at the RSPCA Longview Animal Centre in Stalmine after being found by a member of the public and rescued by an RSPCA inspector.

The RSPCA rescue teams also took nearly 240 rabbits into its care during lockdown – from March 23 to August 31 – due to cruelty, neglect and abandonment.

Dr Jane Tyson, from the RSPCA’s companion animals department, said: “Small furries can be fantastic pets to have, however they have a reputation as a good starter pet for children as there is a misconception that they are easy to look after, but they actually have quite complex needs.

“For example, rabbits need to live in pairs as they are sociable animals - and need a much bigger space to explore and exercise in than just a


“During lockdown there seems to have been an increase in interest for starter pets, which may be because parents were at home with their children and so thought it was a good time to bring a new pet into the family.

“While we believe many people buy a rabbit, guinea pig, hamster or other small furry with good intentions, and many will also do their research, there is a risk that not enough research is being done and we are concerned that this could lead to an increase in neglect of small furries in the months to come.

“Adopting small furries from the RSPCA, either from our national centres or any of our branches around the country, will mean you will have all the information and advice you need to ensure your new pets are happy and healthy.”

Homer is described as a friendly hamster who is extremely quick although not overly keen on being picked up.

He needs a new home with a large, secure cage with plenty of enrichment to keep him entertained. He is not suitable to live with children.

For more information on adopting Homer contact RSPCA Longview Animal Centre on (01253) 703000.