Tink the hamster has come back from the dead – 24 hours after being buried ALIVE in a garden.
Lisa Kilbourne-Smith and boyfriend James Davis were looking after the tiny pet for friends when they found her lying lifeless in her cage.
They thought she was dead and wrapped her little body in kitchen roll, dug a 1ft deep grave in their flower bed and gently laid her to rest.
The tearful pair then phoned Tink’s owners Nicki Gamble and Jamie Wynn to break the sad news that the two-and-a-half-year-old had passed away.
But the next day – Good Friday – embarrassed James called back to announce that the Houdini hamster had been ‘resurrected’ after going into hibernation.
She had EATEN her way out of her paper shroud, DUG her way out of her grave, EDGED along a narrow wall and then CLIMBED a waste pipe to land in a recycling box.
She then CRAWLED into an empty cat food cardboard box which became her shelter through the sub-zero night.
Tink was found by Lisa’s startled dad Les the following afternoon as he went to flatten the boxes for recycling and her head suddenly popped out.
As well as surviving her burial, the freezing night and being accidentally crushed, the robust rodent also escaped becoming a snack for the family’s pet cat Milo.
Lisa, 23, a care home worker, said: “James came home from work and found her lying in the middle of her cage cold and lifeless and he thought she was dead.
“We wrapped her up in a load of kitchen towel and buried her about a foot deep in the back garden so that the cat couldn’t dig her back up again.
“We were looking after her for Nicki and Jamie while they moved house.
“James then rang Jamie to tell him ‘Sorry mate, but your hamster’s passed away’, which wasn’t a very nice thing to have to do.
“The next day he rang him back to say ‘Mate – your hamster’s back alive’ and Jamie thought he was trying to be funny.”
Bus driver Les, 60, who lives next door to Lisa and James in Painswick, Glos., said: “It’s amazing that she survived.
“She’d been out in that freezing cold all night – it was a good 24 hours.
“The energy she had to dig herself out of that hole, then get along the wall and climb up into that recycling box was remarkable really.
“I was taking the boxes to the shed to squash them all down for recycling when suddenly a little face popped out of one of them which gave me a big startle I can assure you.
“I brought the box into the house and said to Jim, ‘Have you lost one of your pets?’
“That was when we discovered that it was Tink and she most definitely wasn’t dead.
“We’ve nicknamed her Jesus because it was Easter when she came back from the dead.”
Lisa – who is still caring for Tink – added: “She was in the cat biscuit box that we’d thrown out the night before.
“She’d managed to crawl into the little hole and survive the night in there.”
James, 24, a binman, said: “I came home and thought she was dead because she’s two-and-a-half years old, which is quite old for a hamster.
“When Les found her safe and well in the recycling, I had the embarrassing job of ringing Jamie to tell him ‘She’s not dead, she crawled out of her grave last night.’”
Experts said that Tink had gone into hibernation which had made her appear dead.
Vet John Auld said: “This isn’t the first instance of a hamster coming back from the dead that I’ve come across.
“If its body temperature drops below a certain level the animal can go into hibernation.
“It has been known for owners to mistakenly believe that their pets have died when in fact they are only sleeping.
“However, I’m amazed by this hamster. The animal’s body temperature would have had to have risen to rouse it from hibernation.
“With the temperatures we experienced over Easter, one would think that the ground would have been far too cold for it to come out of its dormant state.”