Wanted: Home for hamsters abandoned on towpath in Northern Ireland
Eleven hamsters are seeking new homes after they were abandoned in a box.
A total of 14 of the furry rodents - four males and eight females - were found in a cardboard box by a couple walking along the Newry Towpath.
The couple contacted Newry Veterinary Centre, who are now looking after the animals until they find a new home.
So far, just one of the hamsters has been adopted.
Besotted staff also decided to keep two as practice pets - which they have named Harriet and Henrietta.
"The hamsters were abandoned by someone who obviously didn't realise that hamsters reproduce," said Liam Fitzsimmons, a vet at the practice.
"People buying hamsters should be aware of what they're buying: whether it's a male and a female, two males or two females.
He added: "But it's a sin to abandon a wee animal like that - especially in that environment where they had no chance of survival.
"If they hadn't been brought in they would have suffered a horrible and painful demise."
Over his 27-year-long career, the vet says he's never seen a case like it.
"I've never seen hamsters abandoned in this way," he added. I've seen the odd hamster left in here, but never 14 abandoned in a box.
"In years gone by people would breed them and would be able to get rid of them quite easily, but today the pet shops in Newry have hamsters galore and physically can't take any more in."
Anyone interested in offering a home to any of the remaining hamsters should be aware of what they are taking on, Mr Fitzsimmons warned.
"Do your homework first and make sure you know their nutritional requirements and have a cage ready for them," the vet added.
"Also, be aware they are nocturnal creatures - so when you're going to bed at night they might decide to go on their wheel and do 500 revolutions per minute!"
Although they are usually affectionate, friendly creatures, they have a habit of biting unless they are well handled. And he warned, there's also a possibility that the females are pregnant.
"Hamsters mature very quickly. And the fact that these people had abandoned males and females together means the females might already be pregnant."
Anyone interested in adopting one of the hamsters, which are free, can ring the Newry Veterinary Centre on 028 3026 2266.