A rabbit weighing over 1 stone has been signed up for a national pet slimming competition after ballooning to almost the size of a one-year-old child*.
Zeus, who gets mistaken for a dog, lives with another rotund rabbit, Nala, and his owner, Sharon Close.
Sharon, from Leicester, rescued the pair five-years-ago when they were found abandoned in a freezing park.
White bunny Zeus weighs in at over 1st 4lbs– around double the size he should be, while Nala is around 2lbs overweight.
Sharon said: “Both Zeus and Nala are very fond of food and absolutely love Ryvita crackers. I also feed them bags of salad, spinach and treats, which I hide in their hay.
Their over-indulgence stems from Sharon’s love and affection for her rabbits, which began when she first brought them home: “When they were found in the park, it was freezing and they weren’t in great condition. They’d had a tough start in life and I suppose I wanted to compensate for that.
“Zeus is absolutely huge now, I can’t lift him anymore. He’s just not interested in exercising or playing, even when I let him out in the garden. He just sits there.’
“One time I took him out into the front garden and a neighbour said ’shouldn’t that dog be on a lead?’ When I told her he was a rabbit her jaw nearly hit the floor!”
While Nala is a smaller Lionhead rabbit she is still carrying far too much weight.
In addition to eating everything Sharon gives them, the rabbits also have a bad habit of nibbling on the furniture: “They also love chewing my sandals, which is their favourite hobby:
“I love them both dearly, they’re my life,” she said. “They’re both quite old now so I can’t make any drastic diet or exercise changes without help from a vet.
“But if I had my time again I wouldn’t have fed them so much. I’m hoping I can make some gradual adjustments and help slim them down before their weight has any negative side effects.”
PDSA vet nurse, Rae Andrew, from the vet charity’s Leicester Pet Hospital, said that it is never too late to help a pet lose weight: “Zeus is the biggest rabbit we’ve ever seen, he’s absolutely enormous.”
“However, even small changes to an obese pet’s diet and exercise regime can have a big impact and potentially help them live longer.”
Sharon has entered Zeus and Nala into PDSA’s Pet Fit Club competition – a six-month diet and exercise programme, tailored and overseen by expert vets and nurses.
The charity will select up to 15 overweight dogs, cats and rabbits from across the UK to participate.