Prisoners at a rabbit-infested Sussex jail have been issued with a bunny boiling ban after guards discovered they were cooking the furry creatures for dinner.

Hungry inmates at Ford open prison, near Arundel, were told by the governor to stop catching the critters and baking them in microwaves because it upset staff.

Last week a national newspaper revealed the grounds of the jail were being dug up by thousands of the long-eared animals.

A cull was ordered and pest controllers were called in – but it turned out poaching prisoners had already launched their own culinary crusade to keep rabbit numbers down.

In a letter to inmates, hopping mad governor Sharon Jefcut wrote: “There have been incidents of offenders killing rabbits to consume them.

“This practice is unacceptable. Pest control systems are the only means that will be utilised.

“The killing of rabbits by any other means causes distress to staff members and offenders and is inhumane.

“Any microwave used for cooking contraband will be removed.”

Despite the content of the letter stating otherwise, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice claimed the letter had been sent in response to “rumours” rabbits had been killed and eaten.

It is not the first time prison bosses at Ford have come under scrutiny over accusations of lax security.

In July murderer Paul Flint escaped from the jail by walking out of the front gate. He was finally arrested earlier this month in Horsham - about 25 miles away.

And on New Year's Day 2011, 40 prisoners set buildings on fire during a huge riot which caused £5 million damage after they were ordered to take breathalyser tests.

The Prison Service said of the cull: “Staff at Ford prison have contacted pest controllers to find a humane way to reduce the number of rabbits on site.”