A tiny hamster was abandoned in freezing conditions with a handwritten note from her desperate owner saying “I cannot afford to look after her any more.”

The shivering pet was found behind bins in the Pimlico area of London by a passing commuter on Tuesday.

She was huddled in a cage inside a bag in St George’s Square with a note which read: “Please take care of my friendly hamster. I cannot afford to look after her any more. Thank you.”

The one-year-old albino hamster was taken to the Blue Cross animal hospital in nearby Victoria where vets checked her over and named her Snowball.

Amanda Marrington, Blue Cross receptionist at the hospital, said: “We couldn’t believe it when the man walked into reception with a dumped hamster.

The charity is now looking for a new home for the tiny pet as the charity warns of a growing evidence of owners abandoning animals as economic pressures mount.

Ms Marrington said: “The Blue Cross is seeing more and more people struggling to afford their pets during the recession and there is more demand for our services than ever. However, it is never the answer to dump a helpless animal to fend for itself and it is lucky Snowball was found when she was.

“She’s so tiny that she would not have survived long in plunging temperatures. We would always urge people to contact a rescue centre for help if they find they can no longer look after their pets.” The Blue Cross said Snowball was being taken to a re-homing centre which would look for new owners.

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