A concerned mother has called in trading standards to investigate a cuddly Christmas toy she claims is a fire hazard.

Doreen Gardiner, 45, bought two Cosy Creature Microwavable Comforter toys as presents for her two young children.

The £5.99 toys, a cuddly bear and rabbit bed-warmers, were bought for her children, nine-year-old Philip and Amy, aged six, and are designed to be placed in a microwave.

But after Mrs Gardiner put Amy's rabbit toy in her 800-watt microwave for the recommended 45 seconds, she said smoke started to rise off the fur.

Married mother-of-two Mrs Gardiner, of Churchdale Road, Eastbourne, said: "I took the toy out of the microwave and shook it up a bit to spread the heat around.

"Then I noticed a scorch mark around the crotch area, it was smoking like hell and had a hole in it.

"The consequences of what could have happened do not bear thinking about.

"I lost a child from my first marriage to heart disease and I'm not going to put any child of mine in a position where they might be harmed."

Mrs Gardiner, a carer, bought the toys from Newman Pharmacy in Seaside, Eastbourne, on December 10 as Christmas presents for Philip and Amy.

But because of the cold snap in the run-up to Christmas, she decided they could be used early.

Mrs Gardiner said: "They are supposed to act as a kind of kids' hot water bottle and are recommended to help ease aches and pains, tension and rheumatism among other things. I would never buy one again."

A spokeswoman at Newman Pharmacy said it no longer had any available.

She said the company's head office had been informed and the matter was now in the hands of trading standards.

Manufacturer Paul Murray Plc, based in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, was unavailable for comment yesterday.