Egg-rolling at Easter is a game that dates back to medieval times, but who knew wild stoats did it too?
Video footage captured by North Yorkshire wildlife artist Robert Fuller shows the animal doing just that, trundling an egg down a slope in his garden.
He said the clip challenges the perception of the species as vicious killers, instead showing them behaving playfully in a way that Thixendale-based Mr Fuller said is true to their real nature.
In the footage, which has been shared on social media, a wild stoat noses an egg in front of it. The Country Week columnist has also filmed stoats bouncing on a trampoline.
Mr Fuller said: “I’ve seen stoats roll eggs before, but only wild pheasant eggs. I wanted to see if I could get one to roll a hen’s egg so I left one out for it in the garden. At first it was cautious and just bounced around the egg, investigating. But I left a camera trap out and later that night it returned.
“The camera recorded the moment the stoat appeared from behind a fallen log and cautiously approached the egg. It’s reaction was quite amusing as at first it recoiled its neck, as if in surprise, before returning to examine it and then gently nosing it across the garden and down the hill, carefully nudging it round hillocks and over tough grass - off to stash it somewhere for a quiet meal later.”
Mr Fuller has monitored a family of wild stoats in his garden since 2014 and has discovered them to be playful animals.
He said: “They climb onto the cabbage netting in the vegetable patch and bounce like kids on a trampoline. I even got one to roll an egg around on the wobbly surface of the netting.”
The artist’s stoats featured on BBC One’s The One Show last year when he built them a maze and an obstacle course using his daughter’s old bicycle wheel and a wooden rack.
He explained: “I paint directly from my photographs and the whole thing began because I wanted to encourage the stoats off the ground so that I could study them more closely.”