It's a Christmas miracle for two "sweet and friendly" guinea pigs - Jingle and Noel - who were thrown into a rubbish bin in Devon and saved on the morning of bin collection day.
South Devon charity Animals in Distress said they were "horrified" to find that the pair had been sealed in a cardboard box and thrown into a bin in Littlehempston.
A resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, had found the pets in the nick of time.
They said: “I had put my bins and recycling out the night before, but I went out in the morning with some last few bits of rubbish just before the refuse collectors arrived.
"I noticed a taped up cardboard box inside the black landfill bin that wasn’t mine, and I wondered if a delivery driver had placed the parcel there instead of knocking on my door.
"I picked up the box to see but as soon as I lifted it I realised the box was moving. Much to my surprise, when I opened it I found two rather sweet guinea pigs looking back at me! I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing.
“I called Animals in Distress and they were able to take in the guinea pigs straight away."
I still can’t believe it happened. A few minutes later and they would have been crushed to death in the refuse cart, as no-one would have known they were there.
Jingle and Noel are now the newest arrivals to Animals in Distress.
After arriving in a poor condition, they are now said to be settled and doing very well. They were given the festive names by the rescue centre staff.
The guinea pigs already have a new home lined up from the charity's waiting list, but they will stay at the rescue centre until they have fully recovered.
In a statement the rescue centre said: "They are so lucky that [the resident] went out to her bin that morning, as they were minutes away from a really horrible death.
How anyone could do this is beyond all of us – it’s so unnecessary as there are many rescue centres who will take animals in.
We offer a free and completely non-judgmental service to anyone who can no longer take care of their pets.
If anyone cannot cope with their pets for whatever reason, please just give us a call on 01803 812121 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do all we can to help."