The Moray Waste Busters are used to recycling books and bicycles, toys and toilets, and even kitchen sinks.
But workers at the Forres-based centre have been left stunned after someone tried to ‘recycle’ their pets.
Lynn Donaldson, who has worked at the site for five years, said she had “never seen anything like it” when she discovered two tiny hamsters rustling about in a cage that had been left at the drop-off zone.
At first glance she thought someone had simply left behind a dirty cage, which would have been sent straight to the skip.
But when she saw something move about in the straw, she realised something was alive inside.
On closer inspection, she found two “scared and confused” Roborovski dwarf hamsters huddled in the corner of the cage.
The ‘donor’ had also left a note asking – “Please look after two African hamsters. Thanks”.
“It took my breath away,” she said.
“I picked the cage up and they started moving about.
“Never in my time here have I come across anything like this.
“It was just as-well they were awake – if I hadn’t spotted them the cage would have been taken to the landfill site and they would have been killed.
“Thank goodness we noticed then when we did.”
Several Moray Waste Buster staff who work at the Waterford Road facility wanted to take the creatures home after they proved to be a massive hit.
In the end, Ms Donaldson took them to her house at Forres, where she cleaned them out and made sure they were OK.
They have been named ‘Anna and Elsa’, of Disney’s Frozen fame, and are settling in well at their new home.
“We are amazed that anyone would just recycle a pet,” she said.
“I wish they had said something to me if they wanted to get rid of them. They’re very tame so have been well looked after.
“We’re a bunch of softies, so whoever left them maybe knew they would find a new home.
“Please, if you can’t look after your pet, contact your local vet or the SSSPCA for advice.
“This is not a place for recycling pets.”