STAFF at Dogs Trust Merseyside were surprised at an unusual animal left at the rehoming centre gates over Christmas.

A box was spotted at the entrance of the centre by a member of staff on Friday, December 22 - expecting to see a puppy jump out, instead they found a rabbit.

The male bunny was left with food and note written on the box which said that its owners were sorry to give him up but they could not care for him any longer.

After being renamed Noel and having being checked by a vet and local rabbit rescue centre they are now looking for a new home for him.

Dogs Trust Merseyside assistant manager, Catherine Stulberg, said: “We were surprised to say the least.

"He is obviously a very much loved pet as he had lots of hay and food and we think he had only been there a matter of minutes.

"It’s a very sad situation.

“Rabbits do take a lot of looking after and someone obviously feels they can’t give him everything he needs.

“We would urge people not to abandon their pets in this way as it is extremely stressful for the animal.

"If you find that you are no longer able to care for them, your vet will be able to provide you with a list of appropriate rehoming charities to call.

“It is important that charities meet with owners who are handing their pets in for rehoming so we can learn as much as we can about the type of home they will need and to discover any important medical details.

“Although lots of us at the centre are rabbit lovers none of our staff are in a position to adopt him so we’re going to look after him and liaise with local animal rescues who care for rabbits and will make sure he gets a wonderful new home.”