A MAGICIAN who is allergic to rabbits had to hold back the tears yesterday as he faced his worst nightmare – a room full of fluffy bunnies.

Entertainer Ian Wragg normally stays as far away as he can from his furry sidekicks – when he is not pulling one from a top hat.

But after his companion of 11 years recently died, the 41- year-old, from Darlington, had to face up to his allergy by visiting the Bunny Burrows rehoming centre, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, to pick out a new star for his magic show.

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“As soon as I walked in my eyes started to water and my skin started itching,” he said.

“Then my eyes started to go puffy and close up.

“Being in a room with about 40 rabbits was horrendous for my allergy, but we eventually managed to pick a beautiful little dwarf rabbit.”

His new bunny, named Dante, after a 1930s illusionist, will replace previous faithful companion, Asrah.

The New Zealand dwarf rabbit was a key part of his act for nearly half his career and the pair had faced tough times together.

Back in 2007, they had a lucky escape when Mr Wragg’s Citroen Picasso aquaplaned in torrential rain as they returned home from performing at a children’s party in Yarm.

Asrah’s wooden travel box split in half as the car flipped over an embankment and hit a tree. Fortunately, neither were injured.

Mr Wragg said: “Dante has a lot to live up to, but so far he seems perfect.

“He has beautiful blue eyes and is small enough to fit in my hat.”

The owner of Bunny Burrows, Gwen Butler, admitted she had been a little worried at the prospect of one of her rabbits going into showbusiness.

“We have dozens of rabbits who need homes, but I only let them go somewhere I know they will be well looked after, so I was a bit worried he would be pulled out of a hat by his ears,” she added.

“But after meeting Ian I am more than happy to let him have one of them.

“I am confident that Dante will have a very fun and happy life, and hopefully not make him sneeze too much.”