Author Jeanette Winterson has caused a social media storm after she trapped, skinned, cooked and ate a rabbit – and posted the pictures on her Twitter account.

Ms Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, posted photos of the rabbit on her Twitter account with the message “Rabbit ate my parsley. I am eating the rabbit.”

The 54-year-old explained that the rabbit had been trapped in a snare next to her parsley plot at her Cotswold cottage.

She shared photos of the rabbit being “washed and joined for the pot” before it was cooked on a stove in cider with rosemary and thyme.

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Then she posted a picture of her cat feasting on the entrails, adding the comment: “No waste, no packaging, no processing, no food miles.”

Her actions drew a fierce backlash from animal lovers and some her Twitter followers.

Jacqueline Looker blogged: “Before I unfollow you, you make me sick. I will never again read a word you write. Rest in peace, little rabbit.”

To which Winterson replied: “Do you only read vegetarians? If not, why is farmed meat fine but personally trapped disgusting? Think about it.”

But the Countryside Alliance has applauded Ms Winterson’s for opening up the debate about food provenance and removing squeamishness about eating meat.

Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said: “Ms Winterson is being very honest.

“The reaction on social media is symptomatic of the problems that farming and the wider rural community face.

“People are quite happy to eat bacon from imported Dutch pigmeat because it comes in a package.

“That people can react to something that is as normal, sustainable and healthy as cooking and eating a rabbit in such a healthy way shows that we still have a lot of work to do.

“We have a really important role to do in really hammering home this message that every inch of the countryside is managed.

“The British countryside is probably one of the most iconic things about Britain. But you cannot leave it and praise it without accepting the way that it has to be managed.”

Mr Bonner said it was impossible to say how many rabbits were removed from the British countryside each year.

He also pointed out that “hundreds of thousands” of deer were shot in the UK each year and many people “did not want to think about the realities of rural life”.

Mr Bonner blamed the urbanisation of the UK for contributing towards public ignorance of the countryside and changing attitudes towards eating certain meats, such as rabbit or horse, which are still widely eaten in French society.

“It was probably the image of the skinned rabbit which caused people to get as excited as they did. It seems to block out any logical response,” he added.