WITH the release of the animated film 'Hop' about the son of the Easter bunny, parents may find themselves inundated with requests for a pet rabbit. However, many people don't realise that rabbits are one of the most difficult pets to care for properly.

A recent survey by the PDSA found that rabbit owners meet just over half of their animal's needs. For example, 67 per cent of rabbit owners have just one rabbit, despite the fact that they need companionship. Rabbits also require lots of space to run, play and dig and yet still be safe from predators. A standard pet shop hutch, even with a 'run' attached, simply does not provide this.

Rabbits also need daily health inspections throughout the summer to prevent flystrike, and weekly health checks the rest of the year. The hard work, the expense and children quickly losing interest are among the reasons why so many rabbits are abandoned every year. Tens of thousands are currently being looked after in sanctuaries. If you do feel you can provide the level of care they deserve, please don't buy from a pet shop - adopt from a rescue centre and give abandoned rabbits a second chance for a happy, hoppy life.

ASHLEY OWEN Animal Aid The Old Chapel Bradford Street Tonbridge