20 hamsters found dumped in alley inside INDIVIDUAL plastic takeaway boxes

Twenty hamsters - 18 Syrian and 2 dwarf - that were destined to be eaten have been rescured after a dog walker found them dumped, packaged in individual plastic food boxes, in Darlington, UK.

All of 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.

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.

One of the rescue team who 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.

'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.

'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 breed'ers.

'It's sickening to think that these hamsters siblings or children could be still out there meeting a horrible fate.'