According to Google, queries like “Do bunnies lay eggs?” and “Do rabbits lay eggs?” have huge monthly searches. Which makes us think that people don’t really know how bunnies give birth.
Well, we’re not surprised since the National Dairy Council found out that a large depressing number of Americans think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
Let’s be clear: Bunnies do not lay eggs. Rabbit is a placental mammal, which means that they produce embryos inside a uterus and carry them in their womb for about 31 to 33 days. After the pregnancy, rabbits will give birth to an average of 12 bunnies in a litter
Probably, the main reason for your confusion is Easter. This Christian holiday has two very prominent symbols, bunnies, and eggs, with the former delivering the latter. So why is there a rabbit that holds a basket full of eggs when they do not lay eggs?
The whole idea started from a pagan celebration of spring, which was eventually connected to the religious holiday. According to myth, Eastre, the goddess of spring, arrives after a long winter to turn all frozen birds into a snow hare that lays colorful eggs.
That legend also placed rabbits as the ideal symbol for spring, but still, the link between bunnies and eggs is quite strange in the end.
Skip to section
- Rabbits do not lay eggs
- The Origin of the Story of Rabbits Laying Eggs
- What Does a Rabbit Have To Do With Easter?
- How Do Rabbits Actually Have Babies?
- What Does a Rabbit’s Reproductive Cycle Look Like?
- What Mammals Actually Do Lay Eggs?
- Final Thoughts
Rabbits do not lay eggs
Do not let the legend of the Easter Bunny fool you. Unlike birds, rabbits do not lay eggs.
For kids and even for adults, this fact can be a total surprise. For them, this is the hard truth that can be very difficult to grasp.
Rabbits are classified under the Mammalia class. What that implies is that these little and furry beings are mammals. Like any other mammals, rabbits have the qualities that made them part of that class of animals. They possess warm blood, hair, and fur on the body, large secreting organs, various types of teeth, endothermic vertebrates, and lots of other traits that belong only to mammals.
Another feature that is quite prevalent among mammals is that they do not lay eggs, instead, they give birth to live young. The baby mammals arrive straight out of their mother, the same as humans, which are also considered mammals because they give birth to babies and come out of their wombs.
In that case, rabbits have the same traits as any other regular mammal in the sense that they also give birth to live young. And another thing that you have to know is that they may produce lots of baby rabbits in a single year. More so, if the female rabbits are always near to their male counterparts.
At an estimated count, if they are left unchecked and unbalanced, a single female rabbit may give birth to about 184 billion baby rabbits in seven years!
This means that rabbits are at the tip of the ladder when it comes to creating and giving birth to live young. Hence, a rabbit as an egg-laying creature is too far-fetched.
The Origin of the Story of Rabbits Laying Eggs
It seems that the concept of an egg-laying rabbit was drawn to America by German Lutheran settlers in the 1700s who resided in Pennsylvania. They became part of what would be recognized as the American Pennsylvania Dutch Community.
In their Easter folklore, kids would leave out their hats on the night before Easter hoping that the egg-laying hare known as “Oschter Haws” (which translates to Easter Hare) would appear and conclude them as good children.
The next morning, the children would speed out to discover what the Easter Bunny had left for them.
Well-behaved children would see brilliantly colored eggs and other treats, while those kids judged to be less worthy would obtain in their hats what we all would assume to find after a rabbit visited – rabbit poop.
The precise beginning of the German Oschter Haws has been lost in the fog of history.
Several scholars deemed that the egg-laying bunny started with the old festival of Ēostre or Ostara which was celebrated during the Spring Equinox as a welcoming celebration of the approaching spring, rebirth, and fertility.
With a center on birth and fertility, we can now easily understand why both rabbits and eggs might have been a fundamental element of their antiquated celebrations.
We all know rabbits breed like rabbits. And what else can you keep in your hand that encourages rebirth more heavily than an egg?
With the idea that unites rebirth and fertility, rabbits and eggs seem like the ideal mashup for a spring holiday.
Regardless of the creation of the Easter Bunny, the Egg-Laying Bunny Buddy has shifted into a wonderful and enjoyable tradition.
What Does a Rabbit Have To Do With Easter?
Have you ever thought about how a rabbit became the representation of Easter? If so, you are not the only one.
So, how did the Easter bunny start delivering multicolored Easter eggs? After all, we already know that rabbits are mammals and don’t even lay eggs.
In Germany, rabbits have always been linked with spring and fertility since the pre-Christian era. They made rabbit as their symbol for Eostra, which is the pagan Germanic goddess of springtime and fertility.
This isn’t shocking since rabbits are productive breeders. Rabbits can reproduce at a young age and can deliver several litters in a year.
It is deemed that this pagan representation of spring and fertility most likely united with Christian traditions in 17th century Germany. In other words, the Christian celebration of Easter that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus became superimposed on pagan traditions that glorified rebirth and fertility.
So why does the Easter bunny carry eggs? According to Discovery News, rabbits and eggs have been the representation of fertility, while spring represents rebirth since the beginning of time. So even though rabbits don’t lay eggs, the connection of these symbols was almost universal.
Later, the resurrection of Jesus would also be linked to the long-standing idea of rebirth.
Records from the 17th century in Germany illustrate the “Oschter Haws” (Easter hare) for the first time. According to legends, the Easter hare would put colorful eggs in the baskets of well-mannered kids. German settlers brought this belief of the Easter Bunny to the United States in the 18th century. Over the years, the idea developed to incorporate chocolates and stuff in addition to Easter eggs.
So there you have it! The Easter bunny and Easter eggs dawned as pagan symbols of spring and rebirth. Over the ages, these antiquated representations are eventually linked with the Christian holiday of Easter. And although many children may not know the story behind the Easter bunny, they will thoroughly appreciate engaging in the tradition of the Easter egg hunt and look forward to it every year.
But Where Did the Easter Bunny’s Decorated Easter Eggs Come From?
The vibrant decorations on Easter Eggs are maybe even more antiquated than the concept of an egg-laying rabbit, with examples of painted eggs being discovered in ancient Egypt, as well as in Greek, Persian, and Roman ruins.
There are indeed examples of decorated eggs to mark the first day of spring from Persia in 3000 BC!
Throughout written history, spring festivals incorporated decorated eggs in innumerable civilizations the world over.
At no point did decorate spring eggs become more extravagant than those designed for the Imperial Russia Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter presents between the years of 1885 and 1917.
These astonishing Easter Eggs were placed with gold, silver, and jewels. Each was designed by Peter Carl Fabergé and they are still remembered by his name, the Fabergé Eggs.
In total, 52 Imperial Fabergé Eggs were produced, and 46 survive to this day.
Does the Easter Bunny Lay Easter Eggs?
If you grew up with pictures of a bunny who hops around and presents eggs to children each Easter, it appears absolutely normal. But when you pause to speculate about it, what does a hare have to do with eggs?
Well, in ancient culture, the rabbit laid the eggs. But several people had a difficult time understanding how that befell, so they started narrating to their children that the rabbit only delivered the eggs.
Rabbits and Goddesses
In 1874, when the mythologist Adolf Holtzmann was attempting to discover the roots of the old Easter Hare account. He penned that the hare was apparently the divine animal of the goddess Eostra.
Eostra was a German goddess of Springtime. She was drawn – and possibly created – by Jacob Grimm (one of the Grimm Brothers of fairy tale fame and folklorist). In his 1835 book of German Mythology, he considered that Ostara might have been the German translation of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Springtime called Eostre, from whom we receive the title Easter.
From Bird to Rabbit
After Holtzmann was caught by the idea of the Ostara – Easter Rabbit relationship, storytellers started to make their own tales about them. They sought to clarify the connection between the goddess, the rabbit, and Easter eggs.
One of the versions of the tale is that the goddess Ostara’s role was to warm the earth and bring back its life after a long, cold winter period. Her beloved pet was the hare (or rabbit), and she sometimes traveled in a chariot that was being pulled by numerous of them.
Ostara rested under the earth all winter, and one Springtime, when it was time for her to warm things up, she just didn’t feel like rising out of her bed. She nestled up and went back to sleep. When she eventually awoke and moved her way up to the surface of the earth, she discovered that she was two months late. Ostara was flustered when she observed the earth still cold and blanketed in snow.
She immediately got into her chariot and her rabbits drew her across the land. As she moved, the snow thawed and flowers sprang up. Trees and plants started to turn green and bloom. She was a tender-hearted goddess, so she drew her chariot to a pause when she noticed a little injured bird. He was resting on the ground and his wings had been frozen and injured.
Ostara felt liable for being late and making the poor little bird suffer. So she cupped the bird in her hands, warmed him up, and transformed it into a rabbit with lots of furs so he would forever be warm.
The rabbit, however, maintained one of its bird characteristics. It was still capable of laying eggs. The rabbit was so grateful to the goddess for rescuing him that each year, he always places colorful eggs on her nest for the spring festival of Easter.
And that’s the story of why the Easter Bunny can lay eggs.
There are other accounts of this tale, but they all appear to accept that the Easter Bunny can lay eggs because he was once a bird.
But not all countries wait for the Easter Bunny to come: In Australia, where the rabbit is regarded as a pest, the cute, tiny Bilby is taking over egg-delivery work. And in France, Easter eggs are presented by church bells.
How Do Rabbits Actually Have Babies?
All mammals can be classified into three groups in considerations of how they breed.
- Placental Mammals
- Marsupial Mammals
- Monotreme Mammals
Rabbits are placental mammals, which means that their babies grow inside a mother’s womb until their body systems can run on their own.
Though young rabbits may be born completely developed, that does not indicate that they can resist for themselves from the get-go. Bunny rabbits have a very short gestation period of only 31 days and as a result, the rabbit mother must be present almost regularly for the first few weeks.
Along with a very short gestation period, rabbits breed using a system termed induced ovulation. This suggests that rabbits release an egg from the ovary during intercourse and therefore can become pregnant very soon after birth, though normal rabbits are bred closer to 4 times a year.
What Does a Rabbit’s Reproductive Cycle Look Like?
Rabbits don’t ovulate, which implies they don’t automatically deliver eggs for breeding in a solidified cycle like most mammals do.
Instead of delivering an egg to be generated, a female rabbit releases her hormones and can mate with the male. The egg is only delivered during the mating session.
This method occurs every six weeks in seasonally developing rabbits. Seasonal breeders are those who mate during only one distinct time of year. This usually happens when it is warmer outside because this raises fertility rates.
After mating, the doe will sustain her offspring and produce milk supplies to support them.
This method results in about a month before it is time to mate with a different male rabbit. The doe will then be able to produce more babies!
A doe might only produce two litters per year, but each litter can include six kits at most.
What Mammals Actually Do Lay Eggs?
While rabbits don’t lay eggs, some mammals do lay eggs!
These lone animals fall in the third class of animals, Monotreme Mammals.
Monotremes are crazy mammals, in some form because they are more common with reptiles than the rest of us mammals.
For instance, they possess a significantly lower body temperature than other mammals which are all warm-blooded. Their body temperature is much more like that of cold-blooded reptiles.
And, of course, they also lay eggs, just like reptiles!
There are only two types of monotremes that can be seen today, though, in ancient times, we believe that there were several more that are now cannot be found.
The egg-laying mammals that can still be found are:
- The Spiny Anteater or Echidna
- The platypus
As you can observe, sadly, there is no Easter Bunny on that list.
You’d guess that the last two egg-laying mammals would lay eggs in about the same process, but they don’t!
The Spiny Anteater lays its eggs straight into a pouch where the eggs break, while the platypus places its eggs in an underground nest.
While it’s an entertaining story and excellent family fun, the story of the Egg-Laying Easter bunny is nothing more than a myth.
Still, it’s a tale that we can relish with our children and grandchildren, and as they get older, we can bestow the history behind the popular rabbit eggs, and include them to Easter Bunny’s egg-laying mammal relatives who do exist!