Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Easter Bunny

Rabbits don’t lay eggs. Normally there would be no reason to point this out, but today is Easter, and one strand of Easter folklore has it that there’s a close connection between Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny is a rabbit.* Now, it’s not clear whether the Easter Bunny actually produces the eggs itself or just hides them, the way Father Christmas has elves to make his toys while he focuses more on distribution. But even if the Easter Bunny delegates the manufacturing side of the operation, the eggs have to come from somewhere. Where do they come from? Not the Easter Bunny’s reproductive system, that’s for sure.

Many animals do lay eggs, principally birds and reptiles. I guess the reason we’ve settled on a rabbit rather than a bird or reptile is that reptiles aren’t cuddly enough and birds aren’t seen as having enough personality. But there’s one animal that is as cuddly and as spunky as a rabbit and also lays eggs. That animal is the duck-billed platypus.

Too spiky to cuddle? The western long-beaked echidna lays eggs too, but
its spikes make it an unlikely symbol of vernal good cheer.

The only explanation I can think of for our continued belief that Easter eggs come from the Easter Bunny rather than the Easter Platypus is that people have seen the Easter Bunny hiding the eggs, and it definitely wasn’t a platypus. It’s easy to tell them apart, after all, because of the bill. But this doesn’t rule out the hypothesis that the Easter Bunny hides eggs which are produced by a hardworking team of Easter Platypodes. And when you think about it, no other explanation really makes sense.

*Some people will tell you that the Easter Bunny is, or was, a hare. I find this implausible. Like Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny has a lot of work to do, and hares are notoriously lazy. In addition to the fable of the tortoise and the hare, we also have evidence from comparing the living arrangements of rabbits and hares. While rabbits put a lot of work into digging burrows and warrens, hares just find a slightly indented patch of ground and then kind of lounge around on it. They call this non-construction a form, but they’re basically just lying on the ground. Lazy. And hares don’t lay eggs either, so the point is moot to the present discussion anyway.


  1. The platypus is venomous. They're not as cuddlesome as your inch-deep analysis assumes.

  2. I knew that already, and it's very strange that I didn't think of it. I think you may have blown my whole theory out of the water.