Families are being urged to think carefully before buying a rabbit this Easter after a chain of pet shops placed a ban on bunny sales.

National chain Jollyes, which has a branch on the Sweet Briar Retail Park in Norwich, has temporarily taken all of its rabbits off sale for the Easter period - amid fears of impulse buyers leading to the pets ending up in poorly suited homes.

The move will see people unable to take home a long-eared companion until after Tuesday, March 6.

Jollyes commercial director, Chris Burns, said: “Rabbits are one of our most popular pets, but a bunny is not just for Easter and we don’t want to see these lovely animals abandoned once the holiday is over.

“Rabbits are very intelligent and a lot of fun, but they can live for over 10 years so it is a big commitment and we encourage people to do their research and make sure they know what’s involved.”

The move has been backed by Cheryl Kenny, owner of Rabbit Boarding and Bonding in Norwich, who also works at Pettitt and Boo Hellesdon branch.

Norwich Evening News: Cheryl Kenny, owner of Rabbit Boarding and Bonding in NorwichCheryl Kenny, owner of Rabbit Boarding and Bonding in Norwich (Image: Ali Pettitt)

She said: "We do see a greater number of rescue rabbits in the weeks following Easter, which indicates there is a problem with families underestimating the needs of a rabbit purchased over the Easter period.

"It is therefore so important that would-be rabbit owners understand the needs of the new pet they take on."

Ali Pettitt, co-owner of Pettitt and Boo, which has branches in Hellesdon and Bowthorpe, added: "It’s important to remember that rabbits are not as low-maintenance as people may think; they require lots of exercise and social interaction.

"Like any pet, we encourage new owners to research comprehensively and speak to a member of our team if they have any questions at all.

"We support these type of initiatives, similar to the ‘a dog is for life’ campaigns that have run previously, but we would like to see greater regulations on the sales of pets, which would prevent impulse purchases of any type of pet, such as by incorporating a ‘cool-off’ time between purchase and collection of the pet, but short term campaigns like this one do highlight the issue."