Fecundity of rabbits in Spain

With the vaguest of references to i-shepan-im here’s Kirby’s wonderful and scientific museum in 1820:

The fecundity of the rabbit is truly astonishing ; it breeds seven times in the year, and generally produces eight young at a time ; from which it is calculated, that one pair may increase in the course of four years, to the amazing number of 1,274,840. In Spain, they once increased to such a degree as to become so noxious, that the inhabitants were obliged to procure ferrets from Africa to destroy them. Editor.

A lot of sites say that Pliny documented this trade, but the relevant passage of his Natural history actually says: “It is a well-known fact, that the inhabitants of the Balearic islands begged of the late Emperor Augustus the aid of a number of soldiers, to prevent the too rapid increase of these animals.” Perhaps this is a translation error caused by the use of similar words with the same root for both ferrets and thieves. God bless the Italian armed forces.

The more popular candidate is Strabo, but I don’t know the passage in question. It has a bone-like penis which is used in some fashion beyond my recall to cure calculus or some such in the bladder. You don’t expect me to read all this crap, surely.

Much to the confusion of many, ferrets are not sold in ferreterías but earthenware cooking pots are.

Kirby also has a (French) bearded lady (Miss Photoshop 1818?), the ugliest hen in the world, the quite extraordinary Sufferings of Matthew Cox, Esq, of Enfield, and a host of other marvels.

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