PET rabbits are being killed by owners who feed them muesli, according to a shock study by Edinburgh researchers.
They found the cereal – commonly fed to the pets – causes fatal dietary problems.
Now pet shops are being urged to remove muesli-style rabbit food from their shelves after researchers at Edinburgh University found it was causing potentially deadly problems.
An extensive study discovered that while Britain’s 1.7 million pet bunnies seemed quite happy munching muesli all these years, the food is causing unnecessary visits to the vets and shortening their lives.
Now, owners are being urged to feed their pets a daily diet of hay or grass, with some leafy green vegetables and a small amount of pellets instead.
An estimated 57 per cent of rabbit owners give their pets muesli-style foods because they have been led to believe it was an appropriate diet.
However, the two-year academic project at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies established a link between these types of foods and life-threatening dental and digestive problems in rabbits.
Professor Anna Meredith, who conducted the study, said: “Vets have suspected for a number of years that feeding muesli-style foods could lead to health issues in rabbits, and now we have the proof.”
The findings coincide with Rabbit Awareness Week, starting tomorrow, an annual event which aims to highlight the health needs of Britain’s third most-popular pet. Organisers urged retailers to remove muesli from the pet aisle.
They said that after being told about the risks, two-thirds of rabbit owners in Scotland said they would remove muesli from their rabbits’ diets.
Burgess Excel is the first rabbit food manufacturer to cease production of muesli.
Its managing director, Paul Miley, said: “Once we saw the results of this new study we ended muesli production.”
Vets across Scotland are offering free health checks throughout May as part of the awareness programme.
Damage to beauty spots
A VOLCANIC beauty spot has been badly eroded by hungry bunnies, according to a new report.
North Berwick Law, a 614ft volcanic plug in East Lothian, now has soily slopes as a result of “heavy rabbit grazing” says Scottish Natural Heritage.
Their damage to the beauty spot is just part of a wider picture.
Across Scotland, grazing rabbits, sheep and deer have seriously damaged a quarter of the nation’s most important outdoor sites – which could result in a cull.