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'Mixing my toesies'

Rabbits in Australia

'Mixing my toesies'

Kay Sage's anecdote

In November 1992 Mrs Kay Sage of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, a childhood patient of paediatrician and myxomatosis advocate Dame Jean Macnamara, contributed this humorous anecdote to the ‘History of Rabbits/ Rabbiting in Australia’ research project.

Dame Jean Macnamara (1899–1968) was a physician and medical scientist who encouraged the Australian government to pursue the myxoma virus as a biological means of rabbit control. Prime Minister Robert Menzies couldn’t remember the name of the disease, ‘myxomatosis’, so Dame Jean told him this story to help him recall it:

‘A small rabbit was sitting rubbing its two front paws together. When asked what it was doing the rabbit replied, “Mixing my toesies”.’

In the Museum's collection

The National Museum’s collection contains a steel and glass tuberculin syringe, used in trials of the myxoma virus conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in New South Wales in 1954.

A tuberculin syringe.
Tuberculin syringe. National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.