Heroic rabbit wildfire rescue may have been unnecessary
Don't mess with Mother Nature.
Video of a man rescuing a rabbit spotted racing through a gap in the flames has been making its rounds on the internet, but it seems the creature may not have been in need of saving after all.
According to a report from the U.S. Forest Service, published in 2000, wildfires generally don't kill many animals - especially those that live in burrows.
As long as the holes in which the animals have taken up residence remain well-ventilated, they report suggests they're likely to make it through until the blaze subsides.
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As for those that live above ground, the report stated that they generally flee as flames close in on their habitats.
What's more, experts say that while the rabbit saved by the unidentified Good Samaritan near Highway 1 didn't appear to be making a run for it, there may be a reason it was sticking around.
Research conducted by E.V. Komarek suggests the rabbit may have been running into the fire to save its young.
In July 1969, Komarek was stationed near the edge of a controlled fire when he spotted a cotton rat. The creature raced by, "squeaking continuously and excitedly," until it reached the edge of the flames, his research noted.
"While I watched," he wrote. "the cotton rat 'herded' a young juvenile into the runway from the surrounding grass…The adult chased it a short distance away from the flames and returned to repeat the same process with two other young."
It's not clear from the video whether there were any baby rabbits nearby, however.
Komarek also noted in his research that rabbits native to this particular region of California are adept to dealing with wildfires and can pinpoint "a weak spot" to escape through without being burned.
"Frequently, we have seen cotton rats run across the line of fire," he wrote. "Apparently finding a weak spot in it, and return to the smoking burn without injury. However, under certain circumstances, in certain types of cover, they are occasionally singed or killed."
The NY Daily News reached out to both the National Interagency Fire Center and the World Wildlife Fund for comment, but did not hear back.