Too big to go haring about

WHEN Claire Clapham was given a pet rabbit as a joint birthday and Christmas present three years ago, she had no idea he would end up this size!

And she certainly didn’t predict that she would have to put a cat lead on him and walk him around the family farm after he grew to what is surely the biggest rabbit in Hartlepool.

Claire Clapham with Mr Bigwig

Claire Clapham with Mr Bigwig

Mr Bigwig is a British Giant rabbit who now weighs in at more than a stone, and stretches out at around two and a half feet.

Claire became his proud owner when he was just three months old.

Now he’s three, Claire, 21, thinks and hopes he has finally stopped growing – but he still munches through a daily diet of rabbit food, oats and vegetables.

Twice a week Claire puts a cat lead on him and takes him for a walk around Quarry Farm, where she lives just outside of Elwick Village.

But she fears he is even getting too big for that, and says she is planning to buy a dog lead for him in the coming weeks.

“I got him as a birthday and Christmas present when he was just three months old, and he was huge then,” said Claire, who celebrates her birthday on Christmas Day.

“My dad had bought him for me, and he said he nearly died when he saw how big he was.

“I didn’t think it would be possible for him to get any bigger, but he just kept growing.”

Claire realised she was going to have to try and keep Mr Bigwig’s weight down, so bought a rabbit lead so she could take him on walks around the farm in an attempt to keep him in shape.

But when she got home she found the lead wouldn’t fit around his neck, so had to replace it for a cats lead.

“He really enjoys his walks,” said Claire, a receptionist in the IntraHealth GP practice at Hartfields Retirement Village, in Bishop Cuthbert, who lives with mum and dad, Christine, a hairdresser, and Paul, who works on the farm, alongside twin sister Abby.

“I don’t take him out around the streets or anything like that, just around the farm.

“Obviously I let him run around without the lead on but to be honest he likes to be near me, I think he prefers it with the lead on.

“I definitely didn’t think he would end up as big as he is now.

“I’m five foot – and he is about half the size of me!”

British Giant rabbits can grow to around 1 stone 4 lbs.