Little Flopsy the rabbit is facing a brighter future after a difficult start to life which saw her born with a rare disability and abandoned with her family in a cardboard box.
The bunny was found by dog walkers in Roundhay Park, with her two siblings and father, before vets discovered she suffers from splayed leg - where her legs stick out at right angles. The unusual condition, which may shorten her life, means she struggles to walk and was unsuitable for re-homing because of her ongoing need for specialist care.
But vet Ellie Newall, at Holly House Veterinary Hospital in Moortown, was so taken by the family of rabbits - also named Mopsy, Cottontail and Benjamin - she persuaded her parents, who have a large garden, to take them in. She said: “I am delighted mum and dad could give them all a home. I would have re-homed them myself if it wasn’t for my cat being a little bit too interested in anything small and furry. It means I can see them regularly and check up on Flopsy to make sure that as she matures she is getting all the care she needs.
“So far she’s doing brilliantly.
“The prognosis can be a bit variable depending on how bad a condition it is and in Flopsy it’s quite pronounced. She has the deformity in all of her legs, but it’s worse in her left legs.
“We’ve altered the house to her, it’s not a two tier hutch so she doesn’t have to climb down.
“The main thing will be making sure she’s comfortable - she may develop arthritis as she ages due to abnormal strain on her deformed joints. She is a lovely natured rabbit - very calm and relaxed with people and because she is actually bigger than her sisters, she tends to boss them around a bit.”
She added: “The dad Benji is lovely too, he was very tame when we rehomed him and he is fantastic at looking after the three girls. Mopsy if definitely the naughtiest of the group and usually the ringleader when it comes to getting into trouble. Cottontail tends to spend a lot of her time with Benji and tends to follow his lead.”
This week is National Rabbit Awareness Week and Ellie urged anyone interested in owning a rabbit to research their needs before deciding to buy one.
She said: “Having any pet is a big responsibility. Anyone who decides to have a rabbit should make sure they fully understand their needs and are able to meet them before they get one to avoid the situation where they cannot care for them and need to rehome them.
“We do understand that in some situations owners need to rehome their rabbits despite their best efforts. In any event, abandoning unwanted animals if unfair, cruel and wholly uneccesary when there are many ways to gain help and support.
“We would advise any owner thinking of rehoming a rabbit to contact an animal charity or shleter like Camp Nibble who can give them advice and point them in the right direction.”