World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Rabbit of Caerbannog

Rabbit of Caerbannog
The Killer Rabbit attacks Lancelot
Grouping Legendary creature
Sub grouping Rabbit
Habitat Cave of Caerbannog

The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog is a fictional character in the Monty Python film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.[1] It is the antagonist in a major setpiece battle, and makes a similar appearance in Spamalot, a musical inspired by the movie.[2] The iconic status of this skit was important in establishing the viability of the musical.[3]


  • In the film 1
    • Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch 1.1
  • Production 2
  • Antecedents 3
  • Merchandise 4
  • Reception 5
  • Cultural impact 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8

In the film

In the film, King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table are led to the Cave of Caerbannog by Tim the Enchanter, and find that they must face both the Rabbit and the Black Beast. The Cave of Caerbannog (caer bannog being Welsh for "turreted castle") is the home of the Legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh. This is guarded by a monster which is initially unknown.[4] King Arthur and his knights are led to the cave by Tim the Enchanter and find that they must face its guardian beast. Tim verbally paints a picture of a terrible monster with "nasty, big, pointy teeth!", so terrifying that Sir Robin soils his armour at the mere description. When the guardian appears to be an innocuous white rabbit,[5] surrounded by the bones of the fallen, Arthur and his knights no longer take it seriously. Ignoring Tim's warnings ("a vicious streak a mile wide!"), King Arthur orders Bors (Terry Gilliam) to chop its head off. Bors confidently approaches it, sword drawn, and is immediately decapitated by the rabbit biting clean through his neck, to the sound of a can opener. Despite their initial shock, Sir Robin soiling his armor again, and Tim's loud scoffing, the knights attack in force. But the rabbit injures several of the knights and kills Gawain and Ector with ease. The knights themselves have no hope of killing or injuring the rabbit. Arthur panics and shouts for the knights to retreat. Knowing they cannot risk attacking again, they try to figure out another way to defeat the beast. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is ultimately used to kill it and allow the quest to proceed.[6]

Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

The Sovereign's Orb of the United Kingdom, which The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch satirises

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is a visual satire of the Sovereign's Orb of the United Kingdom. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch may be a reference to the mythical Holy Spear of Antioch. The Holy Hand Grenade is described as one of the "sacred relics" carried by Brother Maynard. At King Arthur's prompting, instructions for its use are read aloud from the fictitious Book of Armaments:

...And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy." And the LORD did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large chu... [At this point, the friar is urged by Brother Maynard to "skip a bit, brother"]... And the LORD spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."[7]

Arthur then holds up the Holy Hand Grenade and cries out "One! Two! Five!" Sir Galahad corrects him: "Three, sir!" (A running gag is Arthur's illiteracy and inability to count).[7] Arthur then yells "Three!" and hurls the grenade. The grenade soars through the air - accompanied by a short bit of angelic choral music - bounces, and explodes. The killer rabbit is defeated, and the hapless knights errant continue on their quest. The noise also attracts the policemen who were investigating the dead historian's body.


Tomnadashan Copper Mine.

The rabbit scene was shot outside the Tomnadashan Mine[8] cave 4 miles from the Perthshire village of Killin. For the 25th anniversary DVD, Michael Palin and Terry Jones returned to be interviewed in front of the cave but they could not remember the location. They wandered up and down the hills for hours and, in desperation, asked the locals, saying that they couldn't miss it as it had a killer rabbit in it. This prompt was insufficient and so the couple performed a comic turn in front of the nearby loch to general amusement: "It was priceless stuff, and some of the looks they were getting were unbelievable."[9][10]

The rabbit was portrayed in the movie by a real rabbit and also a prop. The woman who owned the real rabbit was unhappy with the amount of fake blood in which it had been doused by the Python crew.[11]


Paris - Cathédrale Notre-Dame - Portail du Jugement Dernier.

The tale of the rabbit has a parallel in the early story of the Roman de Renart in which a foe takes hubristic pride in his defeat of a ferocious hare:[12]

Si li crachait en mi le vis
Et escopi par grant vertu

The idea for the rabbit in the movie was taken from the façade of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. This illustrates the weakness of cowardice by showing a knight fleeing from a rabbit.[13]


The rabbit has been reproduced in the form of merchandise associated with the movie or musical. Such items include plush toys,[14] slippers[15] and staplers.[16] The plush killer rabbit was rated the second geekiest plush toy of all time by Matt Blum of the GeekDad blog on, coming second to the plush Cthulhu.[17]


The rabbit was declared the top movie bunny by David Cheal in The Daily Telegraph.[18] It also ranked high in an Easter 2008 poll to establish Britain's best movie rabbit, coming third to Roger Rabbit and Frank from Donnie Darko.[19]

Cultural impact

The rabbit is now used as a metaphor for something ostensibly harmless which is, in fact, deadly.[20] Such hidden but real risks may even arise from similarly cuddly animals.[21] The humour of the skit comes from this inversion of the usual framework by which safety and danger is judged.[22] Four years after the release of the movie, Killer Rabbit was the term used widely by the press to describe the swamp rabbit that "attacked" the U.S. President Jimmy Carter while he was fishing on a farm pond.[23]

The Holy Hand Grenade has made an appearance in many iterations of the Worms videogame series, starting with Worms: The Director's Cut. It is a much-stronger (and somewhat different-acting) version of the "regular" hand grenades, and has the general appearance of the grenade from the film. As in the film, it has a three-second trigger and will usually only bounce once.

The Holy Hand grenade appears indirectly referenced in the game Team Fortress 2. It is in the Lumbricus Lid, a cosmetic item referencing the Worms series, replacing the Soldier's grenades with the Holy hand grenades from Worms, as well as adding a different helmet. Equipping the Lumbricus Lid will change the kill icon for the Kamikaze kill taunt to an image of the holy hand grenade.

In Apple Inc.'s iOS system, Siri may say that the "Rabbit of Caerbannog" is its favorite animal when asked.

In Minecraft, there is a special rabbit that is white with red eyes. Minecraft rabbits are normally passive, but this follows and tries to kill you and when it does, the death message states: '[Playername] was slain by The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog'.

See also


  1. ^ Steven Gale (1996). Encyclopedia of British Humorists: Geoffrey Chaucer to John Cleese. Taylor & Francis. p. 155.  
  2. ^ Ben Brantley (18 March 2005). "A Quest Beyond the Grail". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  3. ^ Eric Idle (2005). The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America. New York: HarperEntertainment. p. 312.  
  4. ^ Derek Albert Pearsall, Derek Pearsall (2003). Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. p. 150.  
  5. ^ Brian Kaylor (2007). For God's Sake Shut Up!: Lessons for Christians on How to Speak. Macon, Ga.: Smyth & Helwys Pub. p. 22.  
  6. ^ Darl Larsen, William Proctor Williams (2003). Monty Python, Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 69.  
  7. ^ a b John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Screenplay, page 76, Methuen, 2003 (UK) ISBN 0-413-77394-9
  8. ^ Panoramio – Photo of Tomnadashan mine
  9. ^ Charles Lavery (20 August 2000). "Monty Python & The Holey Grail". Sunday Mail. p. 29. 
  10. ^ "Python's Killer Rabbit Search is a Holy Farce", Alastair Dalton, Scotland on Sunday, 20 August 2000, Pg. 3
  11. ^ "`Mice' is new video release". Kansas City Star. 5 March 1993. 
  12. ^ J. R. Simpson (1996). Animal Body, Literary Corpus: The Old French "Roman de Renart". Rodopi. pp. 156–157.  
  13. ^ Alan Parker, Mick O'Shea (2006). And Now for Something Completely Digital. New York: Disinformation. p. 66.  
  14. ^ "Killer Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth". Toy Mania. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  15. ^ Lisa Traiger (9 June 2006). "Killer Bunnies and Comedy In King Arthur's Court". Washington Post. 
  16. ^ Mark Zaslove (November 2007). "Toy Sleuth: It’s a Big, Big World Minis and Scary Staplers Fight for the Spotlight". Toy Directory. 
  17. ^ "The 10 Geekiest Plush Toys Money Can Buy". Wired. 22 September 2008. 
  18. ^ Cheal, David (5 October 2006). "Top five movie bunnies". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  19. ^ Alba (24 March 2008). "The Diary". The Scotsman. 
  20. ^ William W. Betteridge, James F. Niss, Michael T. Pledge (1975). "Competition in Regulated Industries: Essays on Economic Issues". Center for Business and Economic Research, Western Illinois University. 
  21. ^ Holger Breithaupt (2003). "Fierce creatures". EMBO Reports 4 (10): 921–924.  
  22. ^ R Simpson (September 1996). "Neither clear nor present: The social construction of safety and danger". Sociological Forum (Springer) 11 (3). 
  23. ^ Edward D. Berkowitz (2006). Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies. New York: Columbia Univ. Press. p. 115.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.