The wild rabbits of Okunoshima, Japan (video)

The story goes, Okunoshima island was used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II to test and manufacture chemical weapons.

Supposedly, they used rabbits to test the weapons. When the war was over, the chemical plant was decommissioneed and the rabbits were set free.

Another story has Japanese schoolchildren releasing 8 rabbits during a trip in the early 70s.

Either way, Okunoshima island is rabbit island.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

This second video, while not as good of quality, gives you a better sense of the enormity of the rabbit population (I’m assuming this second video is also Okunoshima, as it’s Japan, and rabbits):

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Patrice

    I own a rabbit, my baby, so it’s not the people Im concerned about whn I say some of them need to be killed, maybe a lot since they multiply so fast.

  • Sweetie

    Rabbits are herbivorous.

  • GoBlue

    The Trouble with Tribbles.

  • GoBlue

    Rabbit is the one meat that really does taste like chicken.

    My mother, a farm girl, raised a garden every year I can remember. One year a rabbit showed up and began to eat her lettuce, and my father wanted to trap and kill it. Mom couldn’t bear to do that, and she prevailed. She said there was enough in the garden for the rabbit and us too.

  • GoBlue

    Another thing, John–the word “enormity” is misused all the time. It doesn’t mean “large size.”

    e·nor·mi·ty (noun)

    1. the great or extreme scale, seriousness, or extent of something perceived as bad or morally wrong. “a thorough search disclosed the full enormity of the crime”

    2. a grave crime or sin. “the enormities of the regime”

    synonyms:wickedness, evil, vileness, baseness, depravity;

  • GoBlue

    Our daughter-in-law is Japanese; she and our son have vacationed several times on this island. It’s a great place for scuba diving. Also, the Japanese people are so honest, our son has walked off and left a bag in a public place, then come back and found it undisturbed.

    The bunnies really do have the run of the island. The only motorized vehicles are maintenance trucks and the bus which brings visitors from the ferry landing to the hotel. Our son says he’s seen a single bunny in the road bring a bus to a stop, a la Tienanmen Square.

  • barada

    Oh sure, laugh now. But if that girl had slipped and fallen, those rabbits would have been
    all over her in an instant. In 3 minutes, they can strip a human adult down to the gnawed bones.

  • Mark_in_MN

    They seem to have bred . . . well . . . like rabbits.

  • Mark_in_MN

    Indeed! I almost posted much the same comment.

  • TampaZeke

    Are you sure that that’s not Easter Island?

  • Bomer

    I actually forgot that he was in that, but then it’s been ages since I’ve seen that movie.

  • Starring DeForest Kelley! With a mustache!

    (Yes, I actually knew this. I have no idea why this squib of useless information is lodged in my brain.)

  • Bomer

    My first thought was Night of the Lepus.

  • People have been feeding them for ages. The island is part of a national park, so they’re essentially protected and since it is a relatively small habitat, if they weren’t being fed, the area likely wouldn’t have enough to sustain such a large population of rabbits and they’d start dying off.

  • Tatts

    They can’t be starving! There’s rabbit food all over the place! Just look at the video. They can graze on all the plant material that covers the place.

    They’re lazy, because they are used to being fed–like cats. That’s why there are signs in the National Parks that say Do Not Feed the Bears. They learn where the goodies are–it’s not because they’re starving.

  • 2karmanot

    Bedroom slippers?

  • Steven Jaeger

    Hasenpfeffer… did anyone say Hasenpferrer?

  • 2patricius2

    I can see another Hitchcock movie: The Bunnies.

  • doug105


  • 2karmanot


  • 2karmanot

    No flies on Mothra either!

  • 2karmanot

    Rabbit gyoza when the nekko population is wanting.

  • Am I the only one thinking of Anti-Pesto? Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit?

  • Zorba

    Live long, and prosper. ;-)

  • 2karmanot

    OMG. it’s like a Vulcan mind melt! :-)

  • 2karmanot

    We are so on the same page.

  • Sweetie

    It’s droll to see people always think they need to manage animals — like animalia would collapse without our micromanagement. Rabbits are going to multiply rapidly regardless of our intervention. If you want some of them to not starve and instead be killed, don’t kill so many predator species. Of course, introducing invasive species causes short-term problems and even extinctions. But, when people talk about animal management they’re usually talking about animal convenience (for people, not the animals). This is like the way the rabbits were mass killed at the University of Victoria because people complained about their decorative gardens being nibbled.

  • Zorba

    They could certainly make it a tourist mecca, too, for rabbit-lovers.
    I don’t have a problem with rabbits, as long as they stay out of my garden. (My garden feeds us for much of the year, between canning, freezing, and root-cellaring.)
    I also have no problem with eating rabbit meat, or any other kind of meat.
    BTW, on another note, I don’t know if you have ever witnessed rabbits mating. I have. It lasts just a few seconds. All I can say is, poor female rabbits! Talk about “slam, bang, thank you ma’am.” It can’t be much fun for the females. ;-)

  • HolyMoly

    Maybe I’m thinking of squirrels. They look like rats with bushy tails to me.

    Extermination, then, might be the only option, but like you said, the residents may actually want them there. I just know that if that ever happened in my neck of the woods, I wouldn’t be all that pleased. Not to mention there’d be mushed-up rabbit carcasses all over the road by the hundreds, with no hope of the city ever coming to clean them up. We’ve already got a noticeable increase in foxes and raccoons, which I assume could be due to their shrinking habitat, migration to new areas due to climate change, or a little bit of both.

    I just can’t help but think that an infestation like that could be a public health issue, if not from the rabbits themselves, then from the predators that might decide to move into the area and reap the bounty (like foxes) and you DEFINITELY don’t want that (high risk for rabies — children and pets could be endangered).

  • Drew2u
  • Drew2u
  • Drew2u

    Rabbits? All I see are ducks.

  • cole3244

    i’m assuming the sociopaths among us will find a less than humane way to deal with the rabbits.

  • Zorba

    We’re obviously on the same page, k. ;-)

  • Zorba
  • Lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) are their own distinct order, not specifically related to Rodentia (rats and mice). Despite some vaguely similar characteristics.

    Rabbits are pests in many places of the world. Australia is probably one of the major ones. That particular place in Japan has obviously encouraged the rabbit population, as more a curiosity than anything else. There would be little value in capturing and exporting them, rabbits are readily available for pets around the world… because… well, they breed like rabbits. :) So if they decided they wanted them gone, a mass extermination process would probably be the only option even considered.

  • Zorba

    There are a few things they could do to reduce the population.
    1.) Stop feeding them.
    2.) Put rabbit fencing around their gardens.
    3.) Think: rabbit sukiyaki, rabbit yakitori, rabbit yakisoba, rabbit oyakodon, rabbit tonkatsu, and anything else they make that usually uses chicken or pork or beef.

  • 2karmanot

    Yakki Usagi with rice and onions.

  • Brother Maynard, bring up the Holy Hand Grenade!

  • jomicur

    Isn’t there an old Roger Corman movie that looks like this?

  • mark_in_toronto

    Is this where Monty Python got the idea for the killer rabbit?

  • Gindy51

    My dog’s version of heaven, given that she will chase anything even remotely looking like a rabbit. Our wild ones have learned that when the backdoor opens, they better GTF out of the back yard NOW or else.

  • I want to hug them all.

  • Buford2k11

    Nothing to worry about unless ya find one fifty foot tall with a bad attitude…Godzilla started out as a humble lizard…Science…I love it….

  • HolyMoly

    One rabbit is cute. Two rabbits would make cute company. Three rabbits a crowd. Three billion rabbits? Just a bit annoying to me. I would imagine that they gnaw at, eat up, and destroy things just the same as their not-so-distant relatives, mice and rats. There’d be a massive extermination campaign going on right about now if those were rats. Fortunately for the bunnies, they were born with one of the strangest survival mechanisms that natural selection has ever given a species — cuteness.

    If i lived there, I’d consider them to be pests, but I guess I’m a victim of their cuteness like a lot of other people. Rather than exterminating them, maybe they could be captured. It doesn’t seem like it would be so hard, considering rabbits will follow just about anyone around who’s carrying a bag of bunny vittles. Once captured, Okunoshima would have a new and quite lucrative export: Pet rabbits. I don’t know…maybe that’s an impossibility, considering that they were born wild, and it’s not like EVERYBODY wants a pet rabbit, but it’s just a thought.

  • Monophylos Fortikos

    Hm. The recent release of this may be more relevant than I imagined.

  • Indigo

    I have no idea what to make of that.

  • emjayay

    No one would think it’s so cute if they were their rodent cousins, the rat. I wonder what components of the existing ecosystem were devestated by the hordes. Obviously, the reproduce like rabbits.

  • quest

    Poor things, they are obviously starving. Unfutunately a lot of these need to be killed so the rest have enuff to eat, imo

  • TheOriginalLiz

    … the bunny welfare state…

  • pricknick

    They look absolutely delicious.

  • Kevin Perez

    What does the fox say?

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