Amarillo, TX - Some locals are scratching their heads after seeing unfamiliar-looking creatures in our area.
Multiple viewers have reached out to us with photos and videos of what appear to be rabbits with tumors. We now know more about these growths.
Here's what they look like....
Viewer Jason Nausch is one of many who has seen these rabbits in the Amarillo area. But what exactly are these tumors on the animals?
It's called rabbit Papilloma virus...also known as the "Frankenstein rabbit" virus.
With all the rain we've received lately, bugs are thriving and the disease is carried through these insects.
"It's a virus that cottontails have that are spread by biting arthropods or insects--mosquitoes, kissing bugs down south where they have the kissing bugs that'll actually attack animals," says Veterinarian Merten Pearson. "Ticks are what actually spread the virus. It's a normal virus not an unusual or weird thing."
"I saw the rabbit a little bit closer and so I decided to shoot the rabbit to see what it was and that's when I found out what it was," says Nausch.
Hunters are suggested not to consume the meat of these rabbits. Pearson tells us it is of no threat to rabbit populations in the Texas panhandle.
It can, however kill some of the rabbits it takes over.
"It can. Because they can get these growths around their mouth and it can grow to the point where they can't eat and so they do starve," says Pearson.
Many of us have heard of the "jackelope" and rumor has it, this condition is where it stemmed from.
"The Frankenstein rabbit and they've got horns around their mouth...come to find out that's where the jackelope generated from. They have growths all over their bodies. They're covered with fleas and ticks really bad," says Nausch.
"It causes these horny growths. They actually think this is the cause of the legend of the jackelope cause they'll get horns up...horny little growths up off the back of their head," says Pearson.
While and odd thing to look at, the virus has not been known to be passed to humans.