Rabbit with No Ears
Vintage Photographs of Freak Animals
Before the advent of the internet the main way people circulated images of unusual things was via several men who would collect and reproduce images and sell them via the mail. One of the themes of these photographs were unusual or freak animals, including the example discussed here: rabbits with no ears.
The two pictures shown below derive from two different collections of unusual animal photographs. both show rabbits reputed to have been born without ears.
1) The Zimmerman Photograph
In this picture from the files of H E Zimmerman, we see this earless rabbit. And Zimmerman assures us it was born this way and not subject to any kind of misadventure but was born this way .The date and location of the picture are not provided but it looks to be from around the 1940s.
The setting seems to be a normal home suggesting that this is a pet rabbit.
2) The Kobel Photograph
This Bernard Kobel picture shows a rabbit born without ears. This rabbit belonged to Ralfph B Cass or Bainbridge, New York. This may be a different photograph of the same animal shown above?
Both pictures show an adult rabbit with wild-type agouti coloring, and no ears.
Rabbits born with ears can also lose them by "misadventure", specifically:
- over-grooming by the mother,
- chewing by other rabbits,
- or rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).
Pretty much any kind of animal can be born without ears. I documented a number of cases here, including quite a few cases of rabbits. This condition is most likely the result of a spontaneous mutation. However earless rabbits are also known to occur as the result of the dam being exposed to toxins such as o-chlorobenzylidene malononitril.
The authenticity of the vintage photographs is supported by the fact that baby rabbits continue to be born without ears. So while these animals are rare and the exact genetic or environmental cause is unknown, they undoubtedly do occur.
Other Examples of Rabbts Born Without Ears
- Clark RG, Samon RL, Donaldson JW et al. A chondropathy of the pinna in rabbits associated with rabbit haemorrhagic disease. New Zealand Veterinary Journal 1999; 47:8-12. [abstract]