A NEWS story in Monday's Independent said that hamsters enjoy a drop of the hard stuff. So if you leave them with somebody while on holiday, perhaps it might help to get them sozzled first.

However, Kathryn Evans of Plymouth thinks we should take our hamsters with us. She did, to an Ironbridge hotel. 'The manageress came into my room and demanded an explanation of the cage's contents and said, 'I've never been confronted with a hamster before', as though it was a species of dangerous dog.'

If you want someone to look after your hamster (or other pet) in your own home, House Sitters (0225 448060) of Bath has a list of 300 'mature, retired ex-professionals' throughout the UK. 'All are pet-lovers with impeccable references who are ready to come and live in homes . . . (for a minimum of four days) providing security and tender loving care for all family pets.' It even has someone in London experienced at looking after water buffaloes] House Sitters' charges start at pounds 15.50 per day. Home & Pet Care (06974 78515) of Penrith in Cumbria offers a similar service from pounds 17 per day.