A JOKE picture of a haggis family living free in the wilds of Scotland has fooled dozens of animal lovers around the globe.
The image – which has become a hit on social media – shows a mother haggis surrounding by four adorable infants.
Haggis are described in the Facebook post as “elusive” and “shy little creatures” that live in the beautiful Highland Countryside.
Despite looking like fluffy slippers, the hoax snap, posted by a jewellery firm, has been take literally by numerous Americans and Australians.
One American, Denise Richardson, from California, commented on the picture: “Is it like a duck? Can’t see the feet, can’t tell if that’s fur or feathers? Looks like some kind of bill. But so cuddly!”
Another American, Donald Temby, wrote: “The little critters look like puff-balls with noses, maybe you could describe what they are, so we Americans far across the sea have an idea. I am of Scottish heritage, but this is one I never heard of.”
Alicia Stewart, also from the States seemed confused, writing: “I have just read that there is no such thing as real Haggis’, they are a fictional creature. More information please, not sure if this is a joke?
Joan Schimmelman added: “So cute. Never heard of them before, thanks for the happy moment.”
Jo Callaghan, from Australia, wrote: “Wow, I never knew they existed. You don’t eat those do you?”
Some Facebook jokers were quick to play along with the trick.
Matthew Bowden, commented: “That’s a farmed Haggis, or even a pet one. The wild ones are not as plump at this time of year as they are yet to fatten up on the new shoots of heather.”
Joanna Stewart, added: “Of course they are real- but they are very shy and don’t come out of hiding very often ‘ cause people hunt & kill them to eat with their neeps and tatties. Live this rare sighting off them!”
The caption on the picture states: “A rare pic of a wee family of Haggi (plural of haggis) they were spotted resting awhile in the hills and glens of our beautiful Highland Countryside…cute as buttons and rare as a set of teeth on a hen, enjoy the wonder of these shy little creatures at rest.”
The description continues: “To get a photograph this close to a Haggis and her haguettes (a baby haggis – which is not to be confused with a baguette) it is advised to disguise your scent with liberal amounts of whisky, and then adopt a stumbling gait, swerving from side to side, so that the animal won’t see you coming.”
The enduring myth of the haggis still contributes to the Scottish travel trade, a Hall’s of Broxburn online poll revealed a third of US visitors to Scotland thought haggis was an animal. 23% said they came to Scotland believing they could catch one.
Questions are also regularly posted on online forums, with tourists looking for advice on how to hunt or spot a Haggis in Scotland.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow has a stuffed haggis in its taxidermy section in amongst real Scottish animals.
The photograph was posted on Facebook by Highland Treasures jewellery firm, based in Arbroath. No-one was available for comment.