In less than a week, a video of a rabbit with a rare condition that causes gruesome-looking growths to emerge from its skull has received over 200,000 views online.
The critter, dubbed ‘Frankenstein,’ was initially observed bouncing around in the Boettcher family’s backyard in Mankato, Minnesota, early last month.
Cottontail papillomavirus (CRPV), also known as Shope papillomavirus, infects the rabbit and causes t.u.m.ors to form on or around the animal’s head.
The tu.mors can grow large enough to obstruct the rabbit’s ability to feed, leading it to di.e of malnutrition. Gunnar Boettcher, 20, of St Peter, Minnesota, studies Exercise Science and Studio Art at Gustavus Adolphus College and believes the rabbit lives in their shed or wood pile.
‘Whenever we got close, he would flee.’ ‘We could never get a good look at him,’ Gunnar adds.
Last week, the college student got near enough to Frankenstein to snap the first photographs and video of him. He and his 15-year-old brother, Zander, created a “funny documentary” on the rabbit as it hopped through their yard.
Gunnar tells the audience in the video that he has spotted a ‘monster rabbit.’
As the camera zooms in on the rabbit, he says, ‘It’s wild, it’s got huge spikes sprouting out of his head, we don’t know what this beast is capable of.’ They shared the video on Facebook, where it quickly went viral and became ‘very popular,’ according to Gunnar.
He claims that his friend Shane decided to post the rabbit images on Reddit.com with the headline ‘Rabbit residing in my friend’s garden.’
After only five days online, the video has received 1,950 comments and 223,592 views.
Rabbits infected with the vir.us are frequently mentioned in folklore as the fabled ‘jackalope,’ a rabbit with antelope antlers.
Stories and images of horned rabbits have long been featured in scientific texts, such as 1789’s Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique. The Shope papillomavirus, named after Dr. Richard E. Shope, who identified it in the 1930s, gave the first animal model of a vir.us-caused malignancy.
His study has benefited humans much and has been utilized as a model for human pa.pill.om.av.iru.ses, such as the H.P.V vaccination, which was developed based on and incorporating studies done using the vir.us as a model.
It’s also being utilized to look at antiviral treatments.