• Tree-climbing Carnivore Rabbits And Other Monsters

    by  • November 14, 2015 • British Mythology, Places • 4 Comments

    Donisthorpe

    We tell ourselves stories all the time. Some are real and some are not, but they all help us make sense of the world.  I’ve always been particularly interested in the stories of folklore, really, since I was a child leafing through my parents books.  They’re very peculiar, folkloric tales, existing in some misty area between fact and fiction – because there was always someone, at some point, who swore they were true.

    And folklore is a living storytelling experience.  Some of those tales go back hundreds, even thousands, of years.  But others are being invented all the time.

    I live in an area that was once, in part, a blasted industrial landscape.  In some villages, waves of coal dust swept halfway up houses, spread by lorries trundling from the pits.  Many of the coal mines and their tunnels are so old, they’re unmapped.  Some date back to Roman times.  But now the area has returned to the greenwood.  That photo above shows the trees encroaching on the path of a former industrial train line.

    The pits were capped, evidence of the mines washed away.  But they’re not forgotten.  Recently, stories have emerged of carnivore rabbits which climb trees to attack squirrels.  There have been several sightings, apparently.  These are, allegedly, the offspring of rabbits which originally found their way to the underground tunnels and were forced to adopt new behaviours to survive.  One of these included learning to love the flesh of rats to prevent themselves starving.  Now they’ve found their way back to the surface.

    We also have a ‘black panther’, one of the Alien Big Cats (ABCs) which are regularly reported in different parts of the UK.  Private zoo escapees, natural species that have never been tamed – there are plenty of attempts at explanations.  The Beast of Bodmin is probably the most famous.  Our local cat has been seen several times, travelling along the old, abandoned train lines, like the one above.  In this way it can cover a wide area while keeping a wide berth of people.

    There’s probably an entire thesis or two to be written about what these tales tell us about ourselves.  But I’ll just settle for the intrusion of the magical and otherworldly into the mundane.

    And just as a reminder, The Eternal ebook will be going on-sale next week, but you can pre-order it at a ridiculously knockdown price.  Here’s the UK link.  Here’s the US and world link.

    4 Responses to Tree-climbing Carnivore Rabbits And Other Monsters

    1. Cate
      November 14, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      I used to ride when I was a kid. Once when my dad was taking me to the stables, we came round a corner on the country lane leading to them. A monkey wearing a dress flung itself over the wall we were passing, jumped on the car bonnet then off and across the road in front of us and disappeared into the field on the other side. Very surreal. My dad said he didn’t see it though I’m not quite sure how he could have missed it.

      I note that this isn’t the first instance of carnivore rabbits I am aware of. There was one in the Life of Brian circa 1979

      • markchadbourn
        November 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm

        Brilliant story.

    2. Mel Bhavsar
      November 18, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Because of the wealth of folkloric and mythical material in the Age of Misrule books I became involved in a local storytelling group… and haven’t looked back! The variety of people who are willing to share stories – their own or traditional tales – never ceases to amaze me. It’s lovely to hear the same story from several different people, each with their own spin on it, which often says as much about them as the it does the story. Hearing and sharing the stories of an area or community gives real, tangible link to the land and its history, and is why I love stories so much.

      A great post, thank you! :)

    3. markchadbourn
      November 19, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      That’s exactly how I feel, Mel. Hearing people speak about those old stories is always an illumination.

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