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There are a number of things that can lead motorists to have to take their cars into the garage for repairs, from bumps and shunts to engine or gearbox failures, but most drivers probably wouldn't consider hamsters a major threat to their vehicle.

However, as one unfortunate student found out recently, an escaped pet can turn into a motoring nightmare and a potentially expensive trip to the mechanics.
Fran Elkington, from Letchworth in Hertfordshire, bought her new pet Willow at a local pet shop.

But the hamster escaped from its cardboard box during the drive home, disappearing into the inner workings of Ms Elkington's Volkswagen Beetle.

She refused to use the car for five days in fear of harming Willow, abandoning lectures and cancelling family meetings, before finally taking it to a garage.

Mechanics spent 90 minutes dismantling the car, taking out various Volkswagen car parts, including back seats, back panels and one of the doors, the Daily Mail reports.

Eventually, they found the escaped hamster nestled between the back seats and the boot.

"I tried everything to get her out, even a humane rat trap but after five days drastic action had to be taken," Ms Elkington told the newspaper.

"I put food down because I didn't want her to starve to death, and as the days went on the food and water was disappearing so I knew she was in there somewhere, munching away.

"She shredded the upholstery all around her to make a nest, eventually we found a trail that led behind the back seat and under the floor of the boot."

The mechanics were so amused by the whole thing that they even agreed to waive the £300 charge for the work.

"The hamster didn't attempt to run away, she just stared at me blinking a little in the light," said mechanic Graham Day.

"I had to coax her out of her new home - she seemed to be pretty happy there. She had made a lovely nest using some of the back seat fabric, seat belt, carpet and underlay."