A colony of hamsters has been discovered living in a tree within the Lakeside shopping centre near Grays Thurrock in Essex.
A spokesman for the 200 acre site, boasting 250 retail outlets and parking for 13,000 cars explained that as an eco-friendly company it was decided to install a small potted tree within the main arcade, and 2 days after the installation of the tree it was noticed that a number of hamsters had taken up residence in the upper branches.
"Apparently these are the only known tree dwelling hamsters in the world, and we are thinking of applying for protected species status" said Mr Kevin Smally the driving force behind the Lakeland "Pot-a-tree" scheme.
"Unlike normal hamsters they very rarely move and so are not a hygiene or security problem, and they have proved to be very popular with our customers" he added.
The hamsters can be seen on level 2 opposite Discount Pets and Johnson's Taxidermists.