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Monday, 12 June 2017

Rabbit

RABBITS IN HISTORY 

The European rabbit evolved around 4,000 years ago in Spain. Phoenician merchants called the region Hispania, meaning “land of the rabbits”.

Britain was rabbit free until William the Conqueror's Normans defeated the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. (William brought with him a colony of bunnies.)


The Normans were fond of rabbit pie and stew. Rabbit was also a favorite of French monks, as they considered them fish and could eat them when abstinence from meat was called for.

In the Middle Ages a rabbit was worth sixpence but a pig only fourpence.

Easter bunnies have their roots in old German pagan traditions celebrating the goddess Eostra, who was honored for bringing spring and fertility on the spring equinox. Because of their fecundity, rabbits were used as her symbol.

Napoleon once commanded a rabbit shoot of such magnitude that masses of tame rabbits were released to supplement the wild ones. Instead of hopping away to be shot they swarmed fearlessly over the French emperor and his carriage.

In October 1859, 24 wild rabbits were released by Thomas Austin for hunting purposes in October 1859, on his property, Barwon Park, near Winchelsea, Victoria. The rabbits were extremely prolific creatures and spread rapidly across the southern parts of the country and within a few years Australians wondered whether the descendants could be checked before they swept the continent clean. Millions of dollars were spent for bounties and for devices for killing the rabbits or protecting the crops. Within 67 years, those 24 rabbits set lose in Australia had grown to a population of 10 billion.

An Australian 'Rabbiter' circa 1900

A rabbit was the only casualty of the first bomb in World War II to fall on British soil.

Paul-Félix Armand-Delille (July 3, 1874 - September 4, 1963) was a physician and bacteriologist, who accidentally brought about the collapse of rabbit populations throughout much of Europe in the 1950s by infecting them with the myxomatosis virus. In 1952, Armand-Delille introduced the contagious and deadly virus to kill rabbits on his estate. It spread out of control, killing up to 98% of rabbits in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain, Italy and Spain. He was later given a medal by the head of the Department of Rivers and Forests.

ETYMOLOGY 

Originally the word ‘rabbit’ was reserved for the young of the species. An adult rabbit was a coney.

"Rabbit" as a slang term for talk comes from Cockney rhyming slang "rabbit and pork".

ANATOMY AND BEHAVIOR

Rabbits sweat through the pads of their feet.

A rabbit’s two front paws have five claws each and the hind feet have four claws each.

Rabbits communicate with each other by tapping their feet.

Because the eyes of a rabbit are positioned on the side of its head, they can see behind them without turning around.


Rabbits often sleep with their eyes open.

11% of all pet rabbits have tooth decay due to their owners feeding them too many carrots.

RECORDS

The world’s largest rabbit is called Darius. He is 4ft 4in long, weighs 49lb and lives in Worcestershir, England.

The largest litter of bunnies ever reported consisted of 24 babies, which are known as kits.

FUN RABBIT FACTS

In Sweden there is a rabbit show jumping competition called Kaninhoppning.


Okunoshima, Japan (aka Rabbit Island) has thousands of wild rabbits which began from only five released there in the 1960s. Since there are no natural predators to keep the rabbit population in check and tourists feed them, the rabbits have no fear of people and will swarm them with cuddles.

While filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the live rabbit that was used for the "monster" scenes was covered in what was assumed to be washable red dye. But when the movie people had trouble cleaning it off, they had to break off from filming to desperately clean the rabbit before its owner arrived.

Sources Daily Express, Comptons Encyclopedia

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