Hamsters face a wheel power challenge as farm gears up for more animal races

HAMSTERS’ and gerbils’ love of running inside exercise balls is being put to good use at Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley – with the power being used to run miniature cars.

Organisers think it is the first time such races have been run in Yorkshire, and hope they will prove a hit with visitors to the Cawthorne attraction over the school holidays.

Cannon Hall Farm already holds popular sheep and ferret races and also recently introduced goat racing, but those at the farm say that hamsters and gerbils are “by far the smallest animals to join the fun”.

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Director Robert Nicholson said: “Visitors know that our races are a bit different, but might be surprised to hear that hamsters and gerbils are taking to the track in little cars.

“Each car is powered by an exercise ball so the creature that can run the fastest inside its ball will win. They go at their own pace, which adds to the drama and excitement, and, so they don’t get tired, each hamster or gerbil will take part in no more than one race a day.”

Four hamsters or gerbils sporting different colours will line up for each race and will go along a course adapted from the farm’s existing ferret racing track.

A live commentary and a mock bookmakers’ kiosk – where visitors can choose which hamster to support and win prizes – have been installed to add to the racetrack environment and excitement.