The world is filled to the brim with grotesque realities. We like to believe that every scary story we hear around a campfire is just made up out of the storyteller’s macabre imagination, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, no matter how twisted they may be, these stories are true. That’s the case for a truly unsettling tale about a woman who mysteriously gave birth to skinned rabbits. Not once. Not twice. But nearly twenty times. Keep reading to learn more about the woman who gave births to over 20 skinned rabbits with the help of her doctor. What’s the creepiest story you’ve ever heard around a campfire? Let us know!
Miracul-ish. Every so often, miracles happen. They don’t always happen in ways that are expected, but they happen. That being said, there are also events that take place that might be confused as miracles — but really might just be the root of something evil.
A woman in the fields. In the fall of 1726, a woman named Mary Toft was down on her luck. Having come from money, according to the podcast Lore, her family had fallen onto hard times. So hard, in fact, that she was left doing quite the opposite of what her wealthy bloodline was accustomed to. She was working the fields as a lowly peasant. She had nothing to her name.
Cry for help. This all changed when she became pregnant. But it wasn’t a normal pregnancy. According to Mental Floss, she had screamed for her neighbor, with whom she also worked, begging for help. She was in labor. But that would be the least of everyone’s worries.
Mother Mary. Her neighbor, Mary Gill, witnessed the birth firsthand. However, it was hardly the beautiful moment that most births ought to be. Because when Mary Toft gave birth, she didn’t give birth to a baby — she gave birth to a rabbit.
Sliced and diced. To make the scene even more horrific, the rabbit was skinned and torn apart. She had given birth to the creature in parts. The legs. The torso. The head, even. Naturally, both women were in shock. But something needed to be done.
Maternal Impression. There was once a belief that the physical offspring of a baby could be affected by a mother’s mental state. If she was stressed, for example, it could cause complications. So was she giving birth to rabbits because she hadn’t had a decent meal in a while? That was a belief.
The surgeon, Dr. John Howard. A local surgeon named John Howard had been delivering babies for most of his life. Three solid decades, in fact. So when he met with Toft, he was skeptical to say the least. Never in the last 30 years had he seen anything even remotely close to this. As they say, though, there’s a first time for everything.
The second birth. Though births typically require a 9 month prep-time, the rules didn’t seem to apply to Mary Toft. Howard personally beared witness to a second birth. Mary Toft had given birth to another rabbit. Another skinned, mutilated and diced up rabbit…
Whispers. Naturally, if someone were to give birth to rabbits, word would get around. When she gave birth to eight more rabbits, word of this was impossible to ignore. Whether or not they believed the stories, most locals knew of Mary Toft and her bunny rabbit babies.
Possible possession. This situation had become so inexplicably out of hand, that it could no longer be kept secluded within this small town. Toft, who was now living with Howard, so that he could keep an eye on her pretty much around the clock, was desperate for answers. The likelihood that she might have been possessed had grown more and more likely.
A royal invitation. Mary Toft’s situation was made to seem all the more significant once it earned the attention of King George I. His personal surgeon, Nathaniel St. André, was sent to investigate. Once he showed up, it was not difficult convincing him that everything about this situation was as legitimate as Toft and Howard explained.
Firsthand. St. André claimed to have witnessed one of the births himself. He gave Toft a thorough inspection, and after confirming that she was, in fact, still pregnant, he saw it happen right in front of him. She had given birth to a rabbit. Another skinned and disgusting rabbit.
Rabbit fear. During all of this insanity, people naturally started to back away from rabbits as a whole. As far as food went, rabbit was hardly ever on the menu. The way they saw it, there was a solid chance that rabbits were tied to something dark — so why take any chances?
Inspection. Eventually, Toft was taken in by King George himself. After a long while of inspection, she mysteriously stopped giving birth. But was it really so mysterious. As it turns out, before this whole fiasco even started, Toft had miscarried, which meant that her cervix was open. This allowed her to stuff pieces of rabbits inside of her whenever she pleased.
The hoax. Though it was all faked (though convincingly), Toft had only carried through with the ruse to escape poverty. She believed that being a freak would at the very least get her fame and money. St. André lost his job and London lost its credibility in the field of medicine. No matter, despite all of the trouble, Mary Toft didn’t seem to carrot all.