A supporter who took his pet hamster to a football match would have caused the animal an “extremely stressful” experience, the RSPCA has said.
Footage posted on social media appears to show a man with the rodent in his hood as he stands among Barnsley Football Club fans during the side's League One game at Walsall's Bescot Stadium.
He is seen smiling while fellow supporters dance and sing songs in the creature's honour, including: "He's got a hamster in his hood".
It is unclear who took the animal - apparently called Hector - to the game as a separate image appeared to show a different supporter holding the hamster in his hand. The family of the man seen with the hamster in his hood insisted the rodent did not belong to him and that he had not taken it to the match.
RSPCA spokeswoman Sara Howlett told The Independent that Hector was unlikely to have taken much pleasure from the day.
“Taking any animal to a noisy, crowded environment such as a football match is likely to be stressful," she said.
“This is particularly the case for hamsters which are nocturnal animals that spend most of the day sleeping and become active in the evening and at night. Being taken away from its home environment in the daytime and having its routine disturbed in this way, especially at the time of year when some hamsters hibernate, would be extremely stressful for this poor animal.
“These are animals that need a predictable routine with warmth, peace and quiet and a place to hide in if needed.”
Carl Whittaker, a Barnsley FC fan attending the match, told The Independent he saw the furry animal.
“It was just a hamster and everyone loved it. It's called Hector apparently," he said.
Becky Mott, a Barnsley supporter also at the game, added: “The guys were on the row in front of us. It's certainly something you don't see every week. I didn't know the guy who brought it but the hamster seemed happy enough [and] everyone was having a good time. He held it up for me to stroke it.”
Rosie Ray, a spokesperson for the National Hamster Council, said she was also concerned for the rodent.
"The person involved was clearly not demonstrating his duty of care towards the hamster," she said.
"A noisy football league match is no place for any pet and this hamster didn't appear to be safely restrained in the hoodie. He could have fallen out at any time and been lost, stolen or trodden on. I hope he won't be doing it again."
Barnsley ran out 3-1 winners against Walsall, lifting them to sixth place in the table.
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