"The Rabbit Died"= Pregnancy

In Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion, Steven Tyler sings, “Can’t catch me, cause the rabbit done died.” I wonder how many young people catch this reference today, because the only times I’ve seen it is in books written before the mid seventies.

When did they stop using this test? What was it that actually made the bunny perish? Did they used to keep cages of rabbits in ordinary doctor’s offices for this purpose, or did pregnancy tests have to be sent off to a lab?

Snopes to the rescue

Thanks. I didn’t even think of trying Snopes.

Man, those guys know everything!

I’m just waiting for the demise of “dialing a phone” and the “broken record” metaphor.

See also Cecil Adams on In old-time pregnancy tests, did the rabbit really die? (04-Jul-1997)

And yet no one directly addresses Sweet Emotion. Aerosmith has it right: “You can’t catch me/'cause the rabbit done died.” If the rabbit dies before the HCG has a chance to affect its ovaries, the test is a wash (until they repeat the test with a healthier rabbit).

True, but is that what he’s trying to say? I don’t think it’s clear in context.

Here’s my translation. Please feel free to correct me.

1: The police apprehend me after I ran outta town. Why? (line 2)
2: Her dad’s pissed that you f***ed his daughter. He called the cops after you.
3: telling me things…perhaps she fibbed her age? Would explain why the dad’s pissed, if you slept with his 16 yr-old. He doesn’t care if you thought she was 18.
Perhaps the girlfriend advocated the rhythym method or some such dubious method of birth control.
4: I’m gonna get off scot free cause they can’t tell whether she’s preggers or not.

Not really sure about line 3.

My interpretation of line 4 was “You can’t catch me because as soon as I found out I got her pregnant, I skipped town.”

This is the most elaborate interpretation of an Aerosmith song I’ve ever seen. I’m not one to talk though - I’ve been accused of philosophizing about Tintin, over-analyzing Top Gun, and once tried to write lyrics to the Wave Race 64 theme song in a haze of THC.

There is also an episode of MASH, where Margert/Hotlips thinks she is preggers. Radar has a rabbit but he doesn’t want it killed. So Hawkeye and Trapper perform an operation on the rabbit so it can live through the test.

This should be "I’m gonna get off scott free because the pregnancy test was negative.

“The rabbit died” commonly means the test was negative, despite the fact that the rabbit died no matter what the outcome of the test (it’s been a while since I’ve read it but I believe Cecil’s column mentions this).

I thought the lyric was “the rabbit done died” not “the rabbit gone died”?

Hahaha, do you stil have those? You’ve gotten me intrigued.

/Cease Hijack.

Here they are, unchanged, in their entirety:

*Wave is the game that you might play
You race jet skis all over the place

We’re racing around in the park
Racing around, racing around, the park


Verse 1 is by a friend, verse 2 is by me, and I’m not sure what the Star Wars thing is but I didn’t write it.

I don’t know the theme tune you’re discussing, but I just have to interject and say that for some reason that’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. Thanks. Please continue.


For those too lazy to click through to the Snopes and Cecil links, the rabbit in the rabbit pregnancy test always died, regardless of whether the woman was pregnant or not. The rabbit test began with a sample of urine from the woman being injected into the female rabbit. A few days later, the rabbit was killed, and its ovaries were biopsied to see if they reacted to an enzyme present in the urine of pregnant women.

No, it doesn’t. Cecil says he thought dead rabbit = pregnant, just like Snopes.

The way I read the Aerosmith lyric’s meaning is that since the girl is question is indeed preggers, the singer is going to hightail it out of there first chance he gets. This fits with the mentality that seemed to common in that day that one’s manhood was was proven by getting a girl pregnant. To the short sighted bad boy, the pregnancy itself was the end result. “Score one for me!” With that type of guy, no thought was given to his being involved in any way after the fact. I remember actually knowing people who thought like this.

Well, it seems there might have been a couple of versions of the Rabbit Test. My brother, the family doctor, read this the other day and had this to add:

So the great bunny death controversy rages on…

MonkeyMensch, your brother is speaking in present tense. We are talking about the rabbit tests of the past. If the rabbit had died within a couple of minutes, actually, the woman could have been notified the same day. As it was, women my age had to wait two or three days to find out for certain if they were pregnant – and that was determined by an examination of the rabbit’s ovaries.

If we “always get it wrong,” we’ve always gotten it wrong for the half century that I’ve known about the test. He is welcome to cite for how these tests of the past were conducted.