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Last Updated: Friday, 16 January, 2004, 14:44 GMT
Parents warned over pet rabbits
Domestic rabbits
Easter is a traditional time for parents to buy pet rabbits
Experts are warning parents to think twice before buying a pet rabbit for their children.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has revealed that an increasing number of the pets are being found abandoned.

Officials said many children often get bored caring for the animals, who are unable to survive alone in the wild.

Welfare centres are reporting an increasing population of bunnies abandoned on their doorsteps.

'Miserable existence'

Mairi Ball, spokeswoman for the SSPCA, asked parents to think twice before buying a pet rabbit for their child.

She said: "A child can become bored of an animal very quickly and very easily.

"What happens then is that the poor animal is stuck in a hutch, often at the bottom of the garden, is given food intermittently and they lead a really miserable existence.

"Rabbits are known as silent victims because they can't make any noise, even when distressed."

She added that the of the SSPCA's animal welfare centre had so many rabbits, they had to convert their stables and garden shed to house them all.

Kenny Sharp, of the Lothian Animal Welfare Centre in Balerno, said rabbits abandoned in the wild would not be able to survive and urged parents to think seriously about the responsibility of a new pet before buying one.

He added: "Rabbits are used to a nice warm hutch with lots of straw, they can quite easily catch pneumonia in the wild and die from cold or pick up diseases from the wild population of rabbits."

BBC's Alexandra Mackenzie
"Parents should remember how quickly children got bored with their Christmas presents"


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