Aug
14
2008

Jackalopes, not real, but helpful

In St. Paul!: A rabbit exhibiting growths resulting from the Shope papillomavirus.
In St. Paul!: A rabbit exhibiting growths resulting from the Shope papillomavirus.Courtesy Liza
When I was a visitor to the “old” Science Museum of Minnesota my favorite exhibit, for whatever reason, was the case that had jackalopes in it. I would insist that we wait until the line to enter the Omnitheater got long enough so we would wait to enter the Omni right by the jackalope case so I could it and stare at it. Sort of weird now that I look back on it…but even today they for some reason fascinate me and I have a jackalope hanging in my cube.

Anyway, the cool thing is that while jackalopes are not real, there is an actual virus that infects rabbits that causes growths on or near the rabbit’s head, which may be the origin of the myth of the jackalope. And the super awesome thing, I think, is that a coworker, and fellow Buzzketeer Liza, has a rabbit with this condition living in her neighborhood and she got this amazing picture of it!

The jackalope in my cube.
The jackalope in my cube.Courtesy Joe
The virus that causes the growths, Shope papillomavirus, was discovered by Dr. Richard Shope in the 1930s. When the virus was sequenced in 1984 it showed substantial similarities to the human papillomavirus (HPV) and as a result has been used as a model to develop the HPV vaccine.

Yea jackalopes!

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here are a few more shots of the Minnehaha Avenue jackelope.

A bad hair day?
A bad hair day?Courtesy Ken Kornack

Jackelope: The rabbit hung around long enough for us to get a few good shots.
Jackelope: The rabbit hung around long enough for us to get a few good shots.Courtesy Ken Kornack

See also JGordon's post, "Tree man has warts. Also, jackalopes."

posted on Thu, 08/14/2008 - 9:46am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

We've also had a few (broods? what is the right word for a litter of bunnies?) of cottontails grow up in our yard this summer. Our garden is being decimated by small rabbits.

Cottontails breed through the late spring and summer. To avoid drawing the attention of predators, mothers stay away from the dens once the babies are born. They return only for a few minutes each night to nurse. Young rabbits grow quickly: they're weaned at 3 or 4 weeks, and completely on their own by the time they're 5 weeks old. At six inches long, their only defenses from predators are to remain perfectly still, hoping to avoid being seen, or to run for cover.

posted on Thu, 08/14/2008 - 9:49am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

There are a ton of new bunnies in our neighborhood too. I don't hate on them, but I am not a huge fan. At one point last winter our two year old announced "raisins!" when we went outside.

It wasn't rains on the snow.

Rabbits (and presumably jackalopes) have a unique digestive process...

posted on Fri, 08/15/2008 - 9:21am

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