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

Caution: The various reports claiming the occurrence of this distant cross, quoted below, require confirmation. They may in fact represent mere hoaxes.

Cottonwood, Idaho Cottonwood, Idaho, early 1900s
Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of hybrids to include all serious allegations, especially those of scholars, whether or not the hybrid alleged seems possible or likely to me. This policy, I think, helps to eliminate subjective judgment on my part, and therefore should remove at least one source of systematic bias from my work. It also helps to fulfill the ethical obligation of telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.

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 were allegedly 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

Rabbits of Idaho:

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

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 that 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, but about 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 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 a 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, despite these claims, with such a disparate cross, one would like to see much more than a few old news reports to be convinced of the existence of such animals. And yet, the evidence for this cross is sparse indeed. (About as minuscule as the tail of a rabbit-cow hybrid!)

dog-cow hybrid A dog-cow hybrid?

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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