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Friday, October 3, 2008

The moment a grey heron catches a baby rabbit by the ears, drowns it, then swallows the thing whole

By Daily Mail Reporter

These amazing pictures show how cruel nature can sometimes be as a grey heron snacks on a rabbit.

Herons mainly eat fish but will also take birds and small mammals. This one was searching for a meal when it spotted the baby rabbit emerging from a hole.

Swooping down it grabbed its prey by the ears, took it to water and drowned it - then swallowed the rabbit whole.

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What a catch: The heron grabs hold of the unsuspecting baby rabbit

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Time for the kill: The hungry bird takes its catch to the waterside

Wildlife photographer Ad Sprang captured the dramatic images in Vianen, Holland.

'I was trying to get some nice shots of this grey heron,' said the 56-year-old Dutchman.

'After taking several shots, a little rabbit appeared out of a hole.

'The heron was interested in it and slowly approached the little rabbit. You could feel the tension.'


Death throes: The heron holds its prey under the water to drown it

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Big gulp: As the rabbit disappears down the heron's throat only the legs can be seen

Obviously hungry, the adult bird, which averages about 100cm (3ft) in height and has a 1.95m (6ft) wingspan, made its move.

'In a split second, the bird caught the rabbit,' said Sprang. 'I managed to take two photos and the bird flew away with its food in its bill.'

Sprang followed the bird by car. He added: 'It landed in some water and I took several photos of the rest of the story.

'I have often seen herons catching prey like mice and fish but catching a rabbit was a surprise.'

In the Netherlands, the grey heron has become very common and has moved into urban environments in great numbers.

There, the herons hunt as they usually would but also make use of food discarded by humans and even visit zoos at feeding times.