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Last Updated: Monday May 23 2011 15:06 GMT

Pet rabbits are 'at risk of neglect' by ignorant owners

Rabbits

Rabbits are one of the country's most popular pets - but a survey shows that many aren't being properly cared for because their owners don't know how.

There are about two million pet rabbits in the UK but many of them could be at risk of neglect, animal charities say.

Most owners surveyed think bunnies should eat carrots - but experts say they're quite sugary and should only be given occasionally, in small amounts.

Too many carrots can make the rabbits too fat, causing health problems.

In the survey of 2,000 rabbit owners, nearly half of them didn't realise the animals need lots of space to exercise, too.

In fact, when rabbits live in the wild they hop and forage for food across an area about the size of 30 tennis courts, every day!

Rabbit
Some owners think rabbits live for about five years - but they can live for over 10 years if properly looked after.

And less than half of the owners surveyed knew that hay is a key part of a rabbit's diet and should be given to them daily.

The hay encourages foraging behaviour and is also essential for the rabbit's teeth and digestion.

If pet rabbits aren't properly looked after, they can get depressed, bored or even angry and aggressive.

But by giving them the right amount of food, outdoor space, toys and company, rabbit owners can help their pets live as long as ten years.