A lamb with markings like a dalmatian dog is turning heads in South Australia's Barossa Valley. The lamb belongs to local dalmatian breeder Julie Bolton and has been adopted by one of her dogs after being abandoned by its mother. Ms Bolton says she laughed when she first saw the animal.
"It is truly spotted. Black spots on a white-based coat which is the same as a dalmatian," she said. "Now the mother who doesn't have puppies at the moment is actually cleaning it and licking it and mothering it and it tries to mother up to her udder. The lamb follows the dog but it gets its milk from me from the bottle."
University of Adelaide animal behaviour expert Dr Susan Hazel says bonds between different species are not uncommon. "The striking thing about this particular story is that the animals look alike. That's why people like it. It's a cute picture but it's not an unusual story," she said. "It's hard to know what goes on in the mind of an animal but I think a lamb, even with spots, a dog's going to know it's not a puppy.
"There are neuropeptides that we know are related to the formation of bonds in animals and also in humans." Dr Hazel says the fact that the lamb's coat resembles that of a dalmatian may be just a coincidence. "The bond that lambs form with their mother plays a very important part so I don't think just looking alike would be enough for a lamb to bond."