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Rabbits 'now the most abused pet' in England & Wales
Rabbits are the most abused domestic pet in England and Wales, with 35,000 abandoned every year, says the RSPCA.
The animal charity said a survey found that 70% of rescued rabbits had been kept hutched 24 hours a day.
Almost 40% had had no food, and half had been living in filthy conditions, it told the BBC.
It found that people bought rabbits but then quickly lost interest. On average the abandoned pets it came across had been dumped after just three months.
Many were simply released in the street or into the wild.
Rabbits are the third most popular pet after cats and dogs and the RSPCA says that rescue centres are struggling to cope with the 35,000 unwanted pets abandoned every year.
Anne Mitchell from the Rabbit Welfare Association warned that parents needed to realise the responsibilities that go with caring for rabbits.
The animals can live for up to eight years and cost �4,000 over their lifetime.
"If you didn't have the children, would you be keen to have the rabbit? If you wouldn't, don't do it," she said.
"Ninety percent of children get bored, they're tired very quickly of the chores.
"You can't treat it like Barbie doll and Action Man and just stuff it in the cupboard under the stairs, although sadly some of these rabbits do end up like that, totally neglected."
The RSPCA statistics will be released next week as part of a survey into rabbit welfare.