Rabbits surf to safety on back of sheep as floodwaters rise

Matthew Diebel
Three rabbits sit on the back of sheep as they avoid rising flood waters on a farm near Dunedin, New Zealand.

When the trio of rabbits saw the floodwaters coming at them, they knew they had to do something.


So the brainy bunnies hopped on the backs of a fleeing flock of sheep and surfed safely to dry land.

The wild-and-wooly escape was captured on camera by New Zealand farmer Ferg Horne, who told local media that he’s never seen anything quite like it in his near-50 years in agriculture.

Horne, 64, was looking after his vacationing neighbor’s sheep when the floodwaters came through the Taieri Plains on New Zealand’s South Island on Friday.

When he was finally able to get to the sheep on Saturday morning, he told Radio New Zealand, they were standing in three inches of water, and he noticed two of them had something on their backs.

“I thought it must have been a bit of debris or something on the sheep from the flood, but the closer I got, I realized it was rabbits,” he said. Two were on one sheep and one on the other.

Thinking that no one would believe his story, he got out his phone to take a photo and inadvertently shot a short video.

"It's a Samsung or a smartphone or whatever you call it. I swear at it every day," he told The Associated Press. "I'm absolutely useless with technology."

He then sent his video to his son, who sent images to a local newspaper and posted them on Facebook.

"From then on it's just gone crazy," he said.

After Horne took the video, he guided the sheep to higher ground.

"They were as happy as can be those rabbits; they were warm and dry, snuggled up," he told The Press in Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city

But weren’t very good jockeys, he told the AP. “They fell off by the time I got to where I was shifting the sheep to dry land, but I did look back, and they were climbing up [a] tree.”

Rabbits are considered a pest to farmers in New Zealand, and Horne said that when he typically sees one, he shoots it.

"But they'd showed so much initiative, I thought they deserved to live," he told The Press.