“Rabbit, rabbit” or “Night of the Lepus”–it’s your choice

10426311_10153130585852392_2191799719262181905_n-1Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

Soon it will be April 1st, and for those of you with superstitious or folklorish proclivities, remember to say “rabbit, rabbit!” (or “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!”) first thing upon waking–before speaking any other words. You might even go so far as to perambulate through the house saying it in each room. This ritual is to be repeated as every new month dawns. I just recently learned of this age-old practice from my friend Tracy, who rescues rabbits and runs an education campaign endearingly called Rabbitron (websiteFacebook), named after her first bunny and serving as a tribute to that worthy lagomorph.  

Why say multiples of “rabbit” on the first of each month? It has to do with luck. Yankee Magazine explains that it’s an English tradition (though why “rabbit” is a bit sketchy); Wikipedia offers a number of variations, some having to do with luck or wishes coming true or receiving a wished-for present by the end of the month (isn’t 30-31 days of good luck enough?!?). If you tend to trust NPR above most other sources, they’ve weighed in, too, and reveal which former great president was a disciple of the practice.

As I pointed out four years ago on these very web pages (“Bad Luck for the Bunny“), many of us recall (and not so fondly or proudly) growing up back in the day as owners of rabbit-foot keychains–considered lucky talismans for humans, but for rabbits, not so much. A couple years later I explored other speciesist atrocities visited upon members of the family Leporidae in “Rabbit ranching: Pat the bunny, whack the bunny.” Atrocities like fur fashions. And meat: Watch as a rabbit factory farmer dispassionately talks about his 2000-some production units and why they live their entire lives in sterile, indoor wire cages instead of outdoors: “…all our rabbits go with the livers in them and you need to have nice clean livers.” Then there’s research.  And ill-advised Easter “pets” who are quickly and cruelly abandoned or dumped off at shelters. Wild rabbits have their own set of wascally woes thanks to humans.

SS JMcArthur_RabbitSlaughter2010-8891-2

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary-click

You’re probably aware of the Whole Foods rabbit meat controversy that’s been playing out for some time now, ever since the market chain announced a pilot program to sell rabbit meat in select regions. This has prompted petitions and protests around the country (photos) owing to the fact that rabbits are companion animals. If you abhor the thought of Fido or Fluffy on your dinner plate, why should a serving of Thumper be OK?

You can safely watch the first two minutes of this do-it-yourself video tutorial on the so-called “humane slaughter” (and subsequent butchering) of a rabbit with a captive bolt stun gun. No rabbit appears in the first couple minutes, which features a demo of the Rabbit Zinger and a non-sentient block of wood. (You’re on your own after that…I bailed when the rabbit showed up.) According to the House Rabbit Society, Whole Foods uses the Zephyr rabbit stunner with a non-penetrating captive bolt that “stuns rabbits humanely and maintains the quality of the finished product” (source). We’re offered the assurance that Whole Foods requires “99% first attempt stun accuracy” and “100% of animals unconscious before slaughter.” (For the record, rabbits aren’t covered under the Humane Slaughter Act.)

Here’s another 100% assurance: Zero rabbits will suffer if they aren’t bred for meat, fur, showing, laboratories, and as Easter novelties. Making that happen is the trick rabbit we need to pull out of our animal rights hat.

But hey, it’s all about us and our good luck, right? So don’t forget to say “rabbit, rabbit” the moment your eyes blink open on April 1st. Because if our luck ever runs out, our speciesist machinations go awry, and rabbits get the upper hand–um, paw–god help us. We could be looking at our very own Night of the Lepus…and it won’t be pretty.

Learn more:

  • Another “Night of the Lepus”video  compilation
  • The story of one rabbit’s brief stint as an Easter bunny
  • Whole Foods rabbit welfare standards and processing requirements here
  • How Whole Foods’ bunnies are killed, House Rabbit Society
  • “Are rabbits pets or meat?” in The Atlantic


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