Wednesday 13 November 2019

These ingenious rabbits escaped a flood on the back of a sheep

The bunnies found a novel route to “high ground”.

(Ferg Horne/AP)
(Ferg Horne/AP)

By Nicola Irwin

Three wild rabbits escaped rising floodwaters by catching a ride aboard sheep and surfing to safety on their backs.

The unbelievable scene was caught in a photograph by New Zealander Ferg Horne, who was getting his neighbour’s sheep to safety in a storm which had forced him to evacuate his home.

The farmer, 64, initially thought a black-faced sheep was among the herd, even though he knew his neighbour had no such animals. Then he assumed it was storm debris.

It was only as he got closer he realised it was three rabbits – two on one sheep, and the third on another.

“I couldn’t believe it for a start,” he said.

Horne, from Dunedin on the South Island, managed to capture the moment, inadvertently filming the odd scene on his little-used smartphone when trying to get a picture. The sheep were huddled together on a high spot on the farm, standing in about eight centimetres of water.

The wild rabbits looked like they’d got wet but seemed quite comfortable and relaxed atop their mounts.

Rabbits are considered a pest to farmers in New Zealand, and Horne typically shoots those he sees.

“But they’d showed so much initiative, I thought they deserved to live, those rabbits,” he said.

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Horne herded the sheep to a patch of dry ground on the farm about 50 metres away.

“As they jumped through the water, the rabbits had a jolly good try at staying on,” Horne said.

The rabbits appeared to cling on to the wool with their paws. As they approached the higher ground, the rabbits fell off but managed to climb a hedge to safety.

He shared the video with his son, who posted pics on Facebook where they attracted thousands of likes and shares.

PA Media

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