Rabbit-cow Hybrids

Mammalian Hybrids

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
I'm nutty bunny number two. I love me and I love you.
Mark McKinney
Cottonwood, Idaho Cottonwood, Idaho, early 1900s

Although they sound like fairy-tale creatures, rabbit-cow hybrids, have in fact been described in the nonfictional context of serious news reports. And these stories do not describe mere inviable monstrosities dead at birth. Rather these are living animals that promised to reach maturity.

For example, the following article about an ostensible rabbit-cow hybrid appears on the front page (cols. 5 and 6) of the Friday, February 26, 1904 issue of the Camas Prairie Chronicle, a weekly newspaper published in Cottonwood, Idaho (source):

CALF WITH A RABBIT HEAD

A large crowd of people viewed a freak of nature here [i.e., in Cottonwood, Idaho] Saturday in the shape of a one-legged calf with a head like a rabbit which one of the Denham boys was taking home to his farm near Keuterville. The calf, which was born in a pasture near here, had one perfect hind leg and two short front legs, each about 5 or 6 inches long. One had a small foot resembling a rabbit foot and the other had neither foot nor hoof. The calf’s nose was round and the lips full making its head resemble that of a rabbit much more than of a calf. It looked quite strong in spite of its odd condition and with proper care might live to occupy a place in a freak museum.

Another such report, of an animal exhibiting the reverse configuration (calf foreparts with rabbit hind parts), appears on page 5, column 3 of the November 23, 1911 issue of the newspaper Linzer Volksblatt, which is published in Linz, Austria:

Calf and Rabbit in One. On a farm in Summerau, [named] Pfarre Rainbach bei Freistadt, a cow recently gave birth. And therewith a remarkable double being entered the world: The front half of this animal is that of a calf, the rear, that of a rabbit [the German word used, Hase, can mean either hare or rabbit]. If this beast steps forward with its forefoot, the rear half hops after. Also, the tail is exactly like a rabbit’s. This monster is already now 14 days old, so it’s completely viable. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original German.]

Summerau is a village in northernmost Austria.

It might seem impossible for a hare even to mate with a cow, but when cows are lying down in the field various small animals, small dogs for example, have been observed in coitu with them. A video of such an encounter is offered on another page of this website.

There is an old (18th century) report of a related cross, sheep × hare. You can read about it here.

And second, brief notice about an ostensible rabbit-cow hybrid appears on page 5, column 2 of the October 9, 1914 issue of the South Bend News-Times, a newspaper published in South Bend, Indiana (source):

BEDFORD.—William Wilson, farmer, is the possessor of a freak calf. The animal, apparently healthy, cannot walk, but moves about by erratic jumps. It was born without a tail, only having a stub similar to that of a rabbit.

However, with such a disparate cross, one would like to see more than a few old news reports to be convinced of the existence of such animals. But the evidence for this cross is sparse, indeed, about as minuscule as the tail of a rabbit-cow hybrid!

Moreover, one might well wonder how a rabbit would mate with a cow. Perhaps, though, such matings could occur in the same way that matings between dogs and cows occur, that is, while the cow is lying down.

The following is a full list of rabbits occurring naturally in Idaho:

  • Mountain Cottontail (Sylvilagus nuttallii)
  • Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)
  • White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)
  • Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)
  • Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis)

Bear-cow hybrids >>

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Biology Dictionary >>

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).


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