Saturday, April 25, 2020

V is for Volcano rabbits (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Image from here

: Volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi), a.k.a. teporingo or zacatuche

Status: Endangered (some populations are extinct)

The rabbit in the moon
Aztec myth

The Aztecs saw the shape of a rabbit in the spots on the moon - specifically, the shape of a teporingo. But how did it get there?
According to Aztec mythology, when it was time for the Fifth World to emerge (the one we are living in now), there was need for a new Sun and Moon. The gods decided two of them had to sacrifice themselves to become celestial bodies. The rich god Tecuzitecatl volunteered to be the Sun, while the poor, rugged Nanahuatzin was ordered to become the Moon. They offered sacrifices, and then the time came for them to throw themselves onto a roaring pyre, burn, and transform. In the last moment the rich and haughty Tecuzitecatl hesitated, but Nanahuatzin threw himself into the fire immediately. Ashamed, Tecuzitecatl followed suit.
Two Suns rose from the pyre, filling the world with light. However, so that the cowardly Tecuzitecatl wouldn't be as brilliant as the brave Nanahuatzin, one of the gods grabbed a rabbit, and threw it at the coward's face. The rabbit stuck, and it has been up there ever since, obscuring the light of the Moon; you can see its shape in the dark spots.

According to another Mexican legend, the other rabbits did not want to befriend the teporingo, because it is so tiny ans weak, and they chased him away to the mountainsides of volcanoes. However, when humans came along, they all started hunting the larger, fatter rabbits nearby, and did not even notice the tiny bunnies safely tucked away in the mountains.

Sources: Read about the story herehere, or here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, or here. Read more about this species here.

Would you be brave enough to become a Sun or Moon? Or would you rather become another celestial body?


  1. Fun stories about the tiny critter. Sorry they are endangered and wiped out in some places.

  2. I would rather be the moon. Poor little rabbits.

  3. Cute rabbit! But he's endangered due to agriculture along others, human is often behind extinction...

  4. What a lovely story. I wouldn't like to be a celestial body...

  5. Volcano rabbits are such sweet tiny little creatures. What a great tale. I hadn’t realized the Aztecs saw a rabbit in the moon. I know many Asian cultures do as well. I'd be happy being any celestial body - what a fabulous perspective that would be.

  6. Darling little rabbit....we humans truly are a scourge upon our beleaguered Earth.

  7. I have never heard of volcano rabbits before! I just looked them up, and they make whistles to alert to danger, like pikas, and don't thump their hind feet. To think they only live on the sides of a few volcanoes! Thank you for introducing us to such interesting animals.
    No, I wouldn't be brave.

  8. I’ve not heard of the volcano rabbit! I vaguely recall an Aztec tale about the rabbit in the moon, but remember the Chinese one, with the girl, better.

  9. Both tales are like fables.
    Being short, I'm fond of the adage: all good things come in small packages:)
    This tiny rabbit is my new favourite.

  10. The Aztecs believed nothing was worth doing unless people had to die in pain and torment to get it! =P
    I like it here on Earth, but it might be nice to be part of Orion or some other close-knit constellation.
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  11. Oh, this rabbit is so adorable!
    I really like the Aztec story. I don't know why, I have a soft spot for stories involving the Sun and the Moon.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  12. Interesting folklore -- looks like the rabbit was the bravest of all :-)

    An A-Z of Faerie: Valkyries

  13. Such a cute creation! It's too bad they are endangered. :(