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  Bunny's for life, not just Easter
Updated 14 March 2004, 12.25
Rabbit
Pet protection charities are warning people against buying real rabbits as cute Easter gifts because they are being flooded with abandoned bunnies.

It said rabbits are not toys and people should think "long and hard" before buying one because they live for years.

Animals are often bought as presents at Christmas and Easter, then abandoned.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) said rabbits are catching up with cats and dogs as the top pets in the UK.

But one animal charity said it was already trying to look after 43 rabbits that had been handed over since October 2003.

Fact File
Rabbits
The Latin name for rabbit is lagomorph
Can live for 8-12 years
Groups of rabbits live in warrens
Romans first had rabbits as pets
There are about 50 kinds of domestic rabbits
Often the unwanted pets are dumped in the cold outside animal centres, which means some die.

Many other pet shelters are overrun with bunnies and they are worried Easter will make the situation worse.

An SSPCA spokeswoman said people buy baby rabbits at Easter when they are six or seven weeks old.

But when people go on holiday in June, they forget they have to find someone to look after them.

Other people just get bored of them.

The charity said if people were really serious about getting a bunny, they should offer a home to the many living in pet shelters.

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