World’s Scariest Rabbit Has Horns Growing All Over Its Face; 'Jackalope' Suffers From Shope Papilloma Virus [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on July 3, 2013 4:27 PM EDT

worlds scariest rabbit
The world’s scariest rabbit. Is this the mythical jackalope, or just a poor regular rabbit who suffers from a debilitating and unsightly condition? (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

The world's scariest rabbit looks more like a weapon out of medieval Europe than a small woodland mammal. The rabbit has horns made of keratin -- the same material our nails are composed of -- growing all over its face and head. Could this be the mythical jackalope, or is the freakish rabbit's appearance the result of a virus similar to HPV in humans?

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According to Gunnar Boettcher, the YouTube user who uploaded the video of the world's scariest rabbit, the cottontail probably has a skin disease called Shope papilloma virus, which causes the growth of large, cone-shaped tumors on the rabbit's head and face that look like horns or antlers. The virus is similar in sequence to HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is transmitted sexually and causes genital warts and cervical cancer in women.

Boettcher doesn't specify where the video of the world's scariest rabbit was filmed, but his Facebook page says he lives in Mankato, Minn., a small city about 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

"Found this majestic and magical creature living around our house. It feeds off of the dying souls of other rabbits," Boettcher muses. "His name is Frankenstein, and I risked my life trying to capture this legendary footage."

Shope papilloma virus is named for Dr. Richard E. Shope, who first discovered it in the 1930s.

Shope papilloma virus could explain how the myth of the jackalope came about in North American folklore. The name "jackalope" is a compound of the world's "jackrabbit" and "antalope" (an antiquated spelling of "antelope"), and is a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes the tail of a pheasant.

"They are said to be vicious when attacked and use their antlers to fight, thus they are sometimes called the 'warrior rabbit,'" Legends of America reports.

The popularity of the jackalope as a tongue-in-cheek gimmick dates back to the 1930s when a man named Douglas Herrick, who lived in Wyoming, began selling mounted jackalope heads to the public, where they ended up in bars and homes throughout the U.S.

Here's the video of the world's scariest rabbit:

Read more from iScience Times:

Oldest Rockfish Ever Caught? Henry Liebman Reels In 200-Year-Old Shortraker Outside Juneau, Ala.

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