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I love chocolate.

Today, when I was making myself a cup of hot chocolate, I was thinking about Easter and about all the chocolate I am going to eat. And at some point I was wondering:

How awesome would it be to have real chocolate bunnies!

Of course a block of chocolate would not be able to hop around the place, but I am interested in seeing how close I could get to chocolate bunnies. How could chocolate bunnies evolve?

Here are some things I was thinking about:

  • What environmental challenges would be needed? I thought that you needed to introduce a predator that could be fooled by the chocolate or that it might be useful for the offspring.
  • Would they be able to produce chocolate milk or could parts of the bunny be edible for a human? As some animals produce milk I would imagine this to be easier, but introducing chocolate milk in bunnies seems weird at first glance. Edible parts could be useful to fend off predators, similar to Autotomy, where an animal discards an appendage to elude the predator. The appendage can then regrow.
  • What would the bunnies need to eat and drink in order to produce chocolate? They would probably need a vastly different diet in order to produce the different components needed for the chocolate, so I would need to introduce the chocolate bunnies in a different part of the world.

For definitions we will take the ingredients of the chocolate recipe I found on this site:

  • cocoa butter
  • virgin coconut oil
  • (raw) organic cocoa powder

Of course this can be liberally changed to suit your solution. The goal is to come as close to a real chocolate bunny as possible.

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    $\begingroup$ "could parts of the bunny be edible for a human?" - if meat counts, this is pretty easy $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Apr 13 '17 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ An adaptation that makes a prey animal more delicious to its predators? I don't think so. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Apr 13 '17 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ @cobaltduck theobromine is toxic to canines, though, so that could be the reason behind the change. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Apr 13 '17 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ @JanDvorak - I will give you that chocolate production might initially be a defense against predation by canids and felids, but will have the exact opposite result with ursids, primates, and rodents. My google research was unclear on the effect on raptors (owls/ hawks, not veloci-). $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Apr 13 '17 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ These will be European bunnies...dark chocolate, rich and smoother refined taste. If you want the American image of chocolate bunny, these little guys are going to need refined sugar flowing through their veins. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Apr 13 '17 at 16:49
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What a fun question. Cocoa is native to South America and only grows near the equator. Some early European settlers in SA start a cocoa plantation. They had brought along European rabbits as a food source but the bunnies, of course, escape. Eventually they realize that the rabbits are really good at removing the tough outer pod that covers cocoa beans. Rabbits love to chew and they need lots of fiber. This job is really labor intensive for humans so having critters do it is so much cheaper. They breed a rabbit that is particularly effective at chewing up the fiber but leaving the beans for the usual processing. Eventually, this rabbit becomes a new species. It is pretty scrawny because selection was for chewing ability not meat or fur. However, one day a desperate former cocoa worker fries one up for dinner. The meat has a distinct cocoa taste. It is more like a mole sauce than a Hershey bar but the addition of some sweetening and other spices makes a wonderful meal.

You could also have rabbits processing cocoa beans the way a civet processes coffee beans but that's just a little gross.

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    $\begingroup$ So, chocolate bunny would live in South America, but the heat there would probably melt them, and kill them... That makes me sad... $\endgroup$ – EngelOfChipolata Apr 14 '17 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ I had to get the bunnies and chocolate into the same environment. BTW Someone gave my kid a chocolate scented toy bunny today and I laughed. $\endgroup$ – Mazel Apr 17 '17 at 1:40
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Obviously a bunny made of actual chocolate is beyond the realms of feasibility, but you could possibly make a bunny that tastes of chocolate.

You can get corn fed chicken which (apparently) affects the taste, and there are other examples of animals being fed certain things to change the taste of their meat, so why not cocoa bean fed bunnies?

Unless you want dark chocolate bunnies the meat would probably have to be quite sweet, so other than cocoa beans they'd need to eat something high in sugar (not sure this works scientifically). Tropical fruits seems a logical choice if you want these to be naturally evolved wild creatures as many occur in the same regions as cocoa beans.

As for why they would evolve, that's actually pretty easy. Chocolate is toxic (or at least contains theobromine which is), not so much for humans but very much so for animals. So the chocolate bunny pumps its body full of cocoa and theobromine (which it has developed an immunity or higher resistance to) and is poisonous to predators.

Being mammals bunnies produce milk, it would not be unreasonable to assume this would also be high in cocoa, hence chocolate milk. I'm going to leave the question of how exactly you milk one to someone else though.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've never experienced it myself, but I've met some game hunters who tell me the best bear meat comes from the bear that has been eating berries, not the one that has been eating fish. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Apr 13 '17 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Sugar eaten usually turns into fat. Bit disappointing, I know. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Apr 13 '17 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot yeah I assumed that would probably be the case.. I wonder if it's possible at all to have meat that's sweet then? $\endgroup$ – adaliabooks Apr 13 '17 at 16:26
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A) Bunnies eat cocoa beans as they eat carrots
B) Bunnies sweat excess of cocoa, Mother bunnies give milk, as they milk is fat and bunnies have naturally fatty skin they are covered in chocolate and give chocolate milk
C) Predators eat Bunnies, chocolate kills Predators. Predators try to avoid adult bunnies trying to seek only young ones who haven't eat cocoa.

You will end with something close to finest Crunchy Frog produced by Whizzo Chocolate Company

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The environmental change necessary would be natural magic capable of allowing for the evolution of chocolate animals. That and a biosphere where theobromine is extremely toxic to all predators of lagomorphs. The last point is on the same page as that proposed by @adalibooks, but on steroids.

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