Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ruminating rabbits

Here is an interesting and possibly relevant source to rabbits and hares ruminating. It is to be found in Dictionnaire raisonné universel d'histoire naturelle, the Universal Dictionary of Natural History, a multi-volume work by the French scientist Jacques Christophe Valmont de Bomare, in the year 1776.

In the one paragraph in this entry on the rabbit (LAPIN, cuniculus), Valmont de Bomare writes (6 lines down):

On prétend qu`ils ont , ainsi que le lievre, la propriété de ruminer. 
Or, in English:
It is claimed that they [rabbits] have, and the hare, the property ruminating.
Note that he only says "it is claimed", rather than that he is personally testifying to this behavior. But it does seem that this was a belief about rabbits and hares, that they ruminated. Not that they engaged in caecotrophy, which seems to only have been first reported in 1882.

Below, I reproduce the article in full. I don't speak French, and likely neither do you. However, this website will take the images and perform OCR in French. You can then correct the OCR and run it through Google Translate.

The full text of the entry follows:

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