Morning Passive - 103/365
An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.

- Vincent van Gogh

B&W Rabbit

Cutting Hare - Reprise

For those of you who missed the ruckus over my 8/5/2005 post about the Cutting Hare (the only venomous member of the rabbit family), I here re-post in full the terrible pack of lies that besmirched not only my name, but the name of the poor innocent Cutting Hare its own self.

You may also enjoy the continuing series of disgusting falsehoods which followed the original Cutting Hare post:

Brush Hare (Lepus saurensis) – 8/6/2005

and

Lepus californicus – 8/7/2005

Enjoy!

Oh, and be sure to SAVE THE CUTTING HARE by buying a t-shirt or poster at the Rabbit + Crow Shop!



Readers know that I am fascinated by the natural world. My wife and I can hardly be asked to dinner without steering the conversation toward the brilliance of David Attenborough’s various nature series. So here’s post #1, of who knows how many, about the world’s coolest animals.

The Cutting Hare of South Asia – which was named the “Wolf Hare” by Europeans (a designation expressed in its taxonomic name Lepus lupus) – is one of only a handful of venomous mammals in the world, and the only venomous member of the order Lagomorpha (which include rabbits, hares and pikas). The male Platypus, also the only egg-laying mammal, has a sharp, hollow spur on the inside of each ankles, which is connected to a gland which produces a very strong toxin. The primitive Solenodon of Haiti and Cuba has grooves in its front teeth which channel venom. Short-tailed Shrews too have venom that is used to paralyze their prey for later eating.

(falsecolor electron microscope image of envenomation spurs on tongue of Lepus lupus – courtesy PsiTec Images)

The Cutting Hare has thousands of microscopic “spines” on its tongue, making its texture a little like a cat’s tongue – but you don’t want the Cutting Hare licking you for too long. The spines in the tongue help to retain an envenomed saliva, which is secreted when the Cutting Hare feels threatened. Anyone who was nipped as a child by a pet hamster knows that a pair of well-exercised incisors can deliver a nasty bite. The Cutting Hare when cornered by predatory animals such as Eagles or Owls, or even snakes like the Indian Cobra or Python, becomes, for a moment, the most unrabbit-like of the rabbit family.

A Cutting Hare will dig in with its powerful incisors, sometimes clinging for three or four seconds, and with tongue thrusts it will “scrub” its toxic saliva into the bite wound. Only then does it fall back into line with the behavior of its relatives and dash like mad for safety. At least one Cutting Hare was seen to cling to its would-be Eagle predator even as the fleeing Eagle was taking to the air.

The toxin is not strong enough to seriously threaten a predator. But there is enough irritation caused by the combination of bite and venom that predators are unlikely to stick around for a second try and will be occupied in soothing the burning wound rather than hunting, and will probably move along to look for easier pickings. This may explain why birds of prey are seldom seen attacking fully grown adult Cutting Hares. In fact, birds of prey and Cutting Hares have occasionally been seen sharing the same patch of ground, apparently observing an uneasy truce.

It has been suggested that the Cutting Hare’s own toxin helps give it a limited immunity from the venom of some of its predators, such as the Indian Cobra. Cutting Hares have been reported to survive Cobra bites that would likely have killed other mammals of similar size.

The Cutting Hare is listed as Endangered. Much of its natural habitat has been lost due to human cultivation and settlement, forestry, grazing; also predation by dogs.

LEPUS LUPUS FACT SHEET

  • Range: Eastern Asian subcontinent from Eastern India to Bangladesh to southern Nepal.
  • Habitat: Prefers tall grass-scrub savanna, in flat, thinly forested country.
  • Social Organization: Not gregarious, sometimes lives in male-female pairs.
  • Venomous: Symptoms include itching and burning sensation; only one fatality known due to rare allergic reaction.

SAVE THE CUTTING HARE! (new t-shirt)

As promised, the new Rabbit + Crow t-shirt design is available today!

This month’s design calls attention to the plight of the CUTTING HARE, the WORLD’S ONLY VENOMOUS LAGOMORPH!

Remember: the Cutting Hare is not a real animal.

It is entirely fictitious.

But if it were real animal, it would be ENDANGERED!

Cutting Hare (Lepus lupus)

Readers know that I am fascinated by the natural world. My wife and I can hardly be asked to dinner without steering the conversation toward the brilliance of David Attenborough’s various nature series. So here’s post #1, of who knows how many, about the world’s coolest animals.

The Cutting Hare of South Asia – which was named the “Wolf Hare” by Europeans (a designation expressed in its taxonomic name Lepus lupus) – is one of only a handful of venomous mammals in the world, and the only venomous member of the order Lagomorpha (which include rabbits, hares and pikas). The male Platypus, also the only egg-laying mammal, has a sharp, hollow spur on the inside of each ankles, which is connected to a gland which produces a very strong toxin. The primitive Solenodon of Haiti and Cuba has grooves in its front teeth which channel venom. Short-tailed Shrews too have venom that is used to paralyze their prey for later eating.

(falsecolor electron microscope image of envenomation spurs

on tongue of Lepus lupus – courtesy PsiTec Images)

The Cutting Hare has thousands of microscopic “spines” on its tongue, making its texture a little like a cat’s tongue – but you don’t want the Cutting Hare licking you for too long. The spines in the tongue help to retain an envenomed saliva, which is secreted when the Cutting Hare feels threatened. Anyone who was nipped as a child by a pet hamster knows that a pair of well-exercised incisors can deliver a nasty bite. The Cutting Hare when cornered by predatory animals such as Eagles or Owls, or even snakes like the Indian Cobra or Python, becomes, for a moment, the most unrabbit-like of the rabbit family.

A Cutting Hare will dig in with its powerful incisors, sometimes clinging for three or four seconds, and with tongue thrusts it will “scrub” its toxic saliva into the bite wound. Only then does it fall back into line with the behavior of its relatives and dash like mad for safety. At least one Cutting Hare was seen to cling to its would-be Eagle predator even as the fleeing Eagle was taking to the air.

The toxin is not strong enough to seriously threaten a predator. But there is enough irritation caused by the combination of bite and venom that predators are unlikely to stick around for a second try and will be occupied in soothing the burning wound rather than hunting, and will probably move along to look for easier pickings. This may explain why birds of prey are seldom seen attacking fully grown adult Cutting Hares. In fact, birds of prey and Cutting Hares have occasionally been seen sharing the same patch of ground, apparently observing an uneasy truce.

It has been suggested that the Cutting Hare’s own toxin helps give it a limited immunity from the venom of some of its predators, such as the Indian Cobra. Cutting Hares have been reported to survive Cobra bites that would likely have killed other mammals of similar size.

The Cutting Hare is listed as Endangered. Much of its natural habitat has been lost due to human cultivation and settlement, forestry, grazing; also predation by dogs.

LEPUS LUPUS FACT SHEET

  • Range: Eastern Asian subcontinent from Eastern India to Bangladesh to southern Nepal.
  • Habitat: Prefers tall grass-scrub savanna, in flat, thinly forested country.
  • Social Organization: Not gregarious, sometimes lives in male-female pairs.
  • Venomous: Symptoms include itching and burning sensation; only one fatality known due to rare allergic reaction.

Learn More!

SAVE THE CUTTING HARE!

Buy the T-SHIRT NOW!

rab-bit

rab-bit

[app. of Northern French origin: cf. Walloon “robett” (Remacle). The primitive seems to occur in Flemish “robbe” (Killian, De Bo; the latter also gives “ribbe”, “rubbe”), dim. “robbeke”; the ultimate etymology is unknown. If French “rabouillere” (the burrow made by the female rabbit to kindle in) is connected, the Middle English “rabet” may be more primitive in form than the Walloon and Flemish words]

1. n., A common burrowing rodent of the hare-family (Leporidae), esp. the common European species, Lepus Cuniculus, which is naturally of a brownish-grey colour, but in domestication also white, black, or pied. Orig. applied only to the young animal, the full-grown one being called a “cony”.

1398 Trevisa “Barth. De P.R. xvii”, Conynges bringeth forth many rabettes & multplieth full swith.
c.1440 “Anc. Cookery in Househ. Ord.”, Then take conynges parboyled, or elles rabets, for thai are better for a lorde.
1502 “Privy Purse Exp. Eliz. York”, A present of Rabettes and quales.
1576 Turberv. “Bk. Venerie lxiii”, The Conie beareth her Rabettes xxx dayes, and then kindeleth.
1607 Topsell “Four Foot-f. Beasts”, If two males be put to one female, they fight fiercely; but they will not hurt the rabbets.
1653 Walton “Angler viii”, Take the flesh of a Rabet or Cat cut smal.
1768 Pennant “Brit. Zool.”, Rabbets will breed seven times a year.
1846 J. Baxter “Libr. Pract. Agric. (ed. 4)”, The rabbit lives to the age of eight or nine years.
1885 E. Clark “Nature XXXI”, Large tracts are still honeycombed by the ubiquitous biscacha, a gigantic rabbit.

2. transf.
a.) Applied contemptuously to a person.
b.) A shadow resembling the form of a rabbit, cast by the hands upon a wall.
c.) (See quote 1878 below)
d.) (See quote 1882 below)

See also “welsh rabbit”

1597 Shakespeare “2 Henry IV – II, ii”, “Away, you horson upright Rabbet, away.
1849 “Plymouth Her., 21 April”, Shadows…strong enough for children to make rabbits with their fingers upon a wall.
1878 Besant & Rice “By Celia’s Arbour xxx”, Even if you did happen to have a “rabbit”, that is one of the coats lined with white fur.
1882 “Standard, 4 Sept.”, Though somewhat of a “rabbit”, as a horse that runs “in and out” is sometimes called.

3.) Obs. Also “rabit” [of obscure origin] A wooden drinking vessel.

1685 Merton “Praise Yorksh. Ale”, Stronge Beer in Rabits and cheating penny Cans
1700 B.E. “Dict. Cant. Crew”, Rabbits–Wooden Kanns to Drink out of, once used on the Roads, now almost laid by.

4.) v., intr. To hunt for or catch rabbits. Chiefly in pres. participle.

1852 “Meanderings of Mem. I”, Beer never bound him rabbiting again.
1861 G.W. Kitchin “Hist. France”, This man caught three Flemish students rabbiting in his warren.

5.) v., intr. To crowd together like rabbits.

1892 “Sunday Mag., Sept. 602”, The common people…rabbit together in miserable warrens.

6.) v. Vulgar. [Prob a fanciful alteration of “rat” in “od rat”, “drat”.] A meaningless word used as an imprecation = “drat”, etc. Also “drabbit”, “od(d) drabbit”.

1742 Fielding “J. Andrews”, “Rabbit the fellow” cries he.
1768 Goldsmith “Good-n. Man”, Rabbit me, but little Flanigan will look well in anything.
1787 Grose “Provinc. Gloss.”, Drabbit it–a vulgar exclamation or abbreviation of God rabbit it, a foolish evasion of an oath.
1831 Roby “Trad. Lancash.”, Rabbit thee, Will, but the luggage will break thy back!
1880 Mrs. Parr “Adam & Eve”, Drabbit the maid!
1889 Doyle “Micah Clarke”, Rabbit me! but you are to be envied.

–per “The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary”, Oxford University Press 1971