Sean Turnbull could not believe his eyes when he found the adorable creatures while loading his gritter at a depot in Powburn last Thursday.
He had been operating a JCB digger to load salt into the trailer of his vehicle.
But when Mr Turnbull, 31, tilted the bucket to unload it, he saw one of the rabbits had fallen in with the salt.
At first he thought it was a rat, but then he spotted the ears and he realised that is was a collection of rabbits.
He was by himself and he admits that he couldn’t believe what was happening to him, but he said: “I just thought ‘here we go’ and I have got a job to get them out.”
Mr Turnbull climbed onto his wagon and rescued each of the rabbits. It took him about half-an-hour to get them out because they were so small.
He said he saw what he thought was a rabbit hole in the pile of salt on the ground.
Mr Turnbull returned the animals to the heap and covered the hole with a blanket to keep them warm.
He said: “I put them back into the nearest hole I could find. The mother rabbit will hopefully find them. The salt heap is only used in emergencies and I am the first one to use it this year so they will be fine.”
The following morning Mr Turnbull posted a picture of the rabbits on his Facebook page. And within hours the photograph went viral, with his family and friends all sharing the image. Mr Turnbull said: “I could not believe it. I was thinking ‘they are just rabbits’. The reaction has been crazy and lots of people have been asking what happened to them.”
Rothbury parish and county councillor Steven Bridgett joked: “Sean is most definitely a jack of all trades, not only does he grit and salt our roads in some horrendous weather conditions, he also moonlights as Dr Doolittle in his spare time.”