Why Do Magicians Use Rabbits (Finally Answered)

Since I am a magician I sometimes get asked where my rabbit is. I did some research and found out why magicians use rabbits:

Magicians use rabbits because rabbits are cute, rabbits are easy to handle, rabbits are a perfect size, rabbits are compressible, rabbits stay still when hidden, rabbits are quiet, rabbits are good-natured, and rabbits are good pets.

Now we’re going to dive into how and why rabbits got associated with magicians and what they mean today. Plus you will learn all about the Magician’s Top Hat.

WHY MAGICIANS USE RABBITS

There is no question rabbits are cute. They have soft fur, big round eyes, velvet ears, a little nose that twitches, and they are small and cuddly. Every time we see a rabbit we all say “Awwwww.” Whether or not the magic trick fools the kids, the cute white fluffy rabbit always gets a great response. Rabbits are lovable and friendly and adored by all kids.

Rabbit

Rabbits are very compressible. They fold up small because a lot of their size is fur. When they are produced their large ears open and their feet hang down and kick. This makes them look much bigger than they really are and much larger than the space they came from, including a top hat. This adds to the appearance of the rabbit, makes it much more impossible.

The magician’s color of choice for rabbits is white. White is a positive color and associates with purity and cleanliness. White represents innocence and is perfect for kids. Most important, white rabbits contrast well against black tuxedo jackets and the black or red curtains of a theater.

Other than being super cute and lovable, rabbits are the perfect size. A magician can perform with a rabbit close up or on stage. They fit into magicians boxes. Anything bigger than a rabbit becomes hard to hide and conceal. Anything smaller than a rabbit is hard to see on stage.

bunnygreen

Rabbits are easy to grip and pull out of a tight space, almost like a handle. They stay pretty still when hidden so it is a smooth process to pick the rabbit up right after being produced. This makes the production seamless.

Birds also stay pretty still when hidden yet flap all over the place when produced. Magicians through the years have tried performing magic with all different animals.

  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Snakes
  • Cockroaches
  • Birds
  • Ducks
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Donkeys
  • Horses
  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Elephants

Rabbits are good with kids and also like to be cuddled. Kids always want to pet the rabbit. Another important point is that rabbits are easily portable. They don’t take up too much room. A magician has to consider getting the rabbit to and from the show. All things considered, when picking a live animal to put in your show, rabbits are the best choice for magicians.

small bunny

WHY DO MAGICIANS PULL RABBITS OUT OF HATS

Producing an object from nowhere is a very impressive magic trick. When you produce a live animal it is so much more impressive. Producing a rabbit is an unbelievable and extremely memorable magic trick. Magicians realized this and worked out methods for producing a rabbit out of a top hat. Top hats were popular back in the day.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT

Magicians started out mostly performing at circuses, fairs, and festivals. They would produce the rabbit and then management would charge extra money for the kids to pet the rabbit. It was an up-sell for the show producers and a way to make more money. Sort of like selling tee shirts at concerts. There are no kids that don’t want to pet the rabbit. It is actually a great idea.

HISTORY

The earliest known magicians pulling rabbits out of hats were in the early 1800s. A magician would show a top hat seemingly empty and then reach in and pull out a live rabbit. It was a very impressive trick. At the time rabbits were very readily available. Everybody lived on farms. Rabbits were used for their fur and rabbit stew. Today rabbits are still available and easy to get at most pet stores.

MAGICIAN TOP HAT

brightrab

Back in the 19th century, when the rise of magic and entertainment in Europe began, top hats were common. Many men wore top hats, especially performers, like magicians. The size of a top hat is perfect for producing a rabbit. A magician could use his own top hat or easily borrow one from someone in the audience. Nowadays men don’t wear top hats; a couple hundred years ago using a top hat made sense.

I have been a professional magician for over 20 years and have never seen a magician live pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. Magicians of today produce rabbits from pans of fire and colorful boxes. Yet rabbits and top hats still remain a universally recognized symbol of magic. Rabbits have become an iconic representation of magic.

Magician

RABBITS ARE LESS POPULAR

Magicians are using rabbits less and less in their magic shows. Owning and caring for any animal is a big responsibility both onstage and offstage. Many animal rights activist groups are questioning the safety and “caring for” of rabbits used in magic tricks. With the availability of so many new and amazing tricks, many magicians don’t want to deal with the responsibilities that come with using rabbits.

“PULLING A RABBIT OUT OF A HAT”

Pulling rabbits out of those top hats sure made an impact. It was so amazing and wondrous it created a whole new phrase in the English language. It is an expression that we all say and understand. It is an internationally accepted phrase that has become part of pop culture.

to pull a rabbit out of the hat

  • to do something, unexpected, and seemingly impossible 
  • to do something very clever and unexpected that solves a problem
  • to produce something surprising, in a way that has no obvious explanation, as if done by magic

“You really pulled a rabbit out of the hat by passing Chemistry without ever going to class.”

“Point game, you’re down by 3, my ball, you’ll need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to win this one.”

MAGICIAN RABBIT TRICKS

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat uses a real rabbit. There are some other magic tricks involving the appearance and disappearance of live rabbits. Most of these tricks use special boxes and magician props. One popular production uses a metal pan. You show it empty, light it on fire, close it, and when you lift the lid, a rabbit appears. There is a very famous close up magic trick called Sponge bunnies. It is a great trick and also plays on the cute factor of little bunnies.

sponeger
Sponge Bunnies

Run Rabbit Run is another great rabbit trick. It is an illusion, a big prop, and does not use a real rabbit. It is perfect for a larger audience. It plays bigger and can be seen by more people. It is a classic Kids Show magic trick used by many magicians today. Generally it is performed on stage or at the front of the room. The trick is a good substitute when the magician does not have a real rabbit.

run rabbit

Below is a link to a real performance by Penn and Teller on the Jimmy Fallon show. They actually produce a rabbit out of a hat. It is so well done, so well executed, so amazing. I promise it will fool you. Jimmy Fallon was standing right there and got fooled big time. Wait until you see his face. Watch it from where it starts at 3.00 minutes. This is clear evidence that producing a rabbit out of a hat is a wonderful piece of magic.

YouTube video- Penn & Teller Pull a Rabbit Out of a Hat
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Matt

Hi, I'm Matt Furman. I have been a full time professional magician for over 20 years, ever since I left medical school to pursue my passion of magic tricks. I have a ton of real world experience and I am constantly practicing and performing new mind blowing magic.