A team of television documentary makers from the United States has managed to capture the first ever footage of the rare Missouri swamp rabbit, one of the biggest species of cotton tail bunny in the world, taking the plunge to swim across a creek.
When we think about great swimmers, the creatures that most commonly pop to mind are fish, they a shark, a big mouth bass or a blue fin tuna. But bunny rabbits? Well, they might be the last to make that swim list.
At least, that’s the way most people might think. For decades scientists have assumed that rabbits never willingly go into water unless they are threatened by a predator, and even they it was assumed that because of their size – their super lean bodies have tiny lungs – that they simply would not be able to stay afloat.
But a crew of documentary makers from the public broadcasting PBS Channel in the United States has made a remarkable discovery.
They were filming in the remote, dank and difficult terrain of swamplands in the state of Missouri earlier this year when they managed to capture a remarkable sight – a rare species of woodland bunny taking a recreational dip in a local creek, one of dozens of tributaries to the mighty Mississippi River.
Scientists have known for a long time that wild swamp rabbits can swim – former US President Jimmy Carter was actually attacked by one when he went fishing near his home town of Plains, Georgia, in 1979 – but this new film footage ist’s remarkable for two reasons; the first is that no one has ever filmed swamp rabbits taking a swim before; and the second is that all our perceptions abouts rabbits and their ability to swim have now been turned on their furry tummies.
It turns out that this species of swamp rabbit is much bigger than almost all its wild cousins, with an increased bulk and muscular anatomy that gives them a boost in buoyancy. In other words, the bigger they are the better they swim.
And they swim extremely well. Think Mark Spitz in a bunny suit. Almost all other known cases of swimming rabbits have been bunnies raised in captivity seen lounging in their owner’s pools, so to see a world-class swimmer like the elusive Missouri swamp rabbit is a real treat.
Oh, and by the way, they are world class sprinters, too, as fast as a fleet-footed forest dear. The locals call them cane-cutters because they are so fast, which is probably why the world knows so little about them.