Jimmy Carter was once attacked by a “swamp rabbit.”

  • Jimmy Carter in boat, 1979
Jimmy Carter in boat, 1979
Credit: Zuri Swimmer/ Alamy Stock Photo

Most Presidents are known to have favorite vacation spots when they need to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of Washington, and for Jimmy Carter it was his farm in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. During one such getaway on April 20, 1979, however, the commander in chief was relaxing on a boat in a pond when what has since become known as the “killer rabbit attack” occurred. The swamp rabbit in question, which, according to The New York Times, was said to be “hissing menacingly, its teeth flashing and its nostrils flared,” swam toward Carter until he shooed it away with his paddle. As unbelievable as the incident might sound — including to Carter’s own staff, whose skepticism stung him — it was photographed for posterity.

“It was a killer rabbit,” one skeptical staff member said upon seeing the picture. “The President was swinging for his life.” Carter himself downplayed the incident, describing his supposed attacker as “just a nice, quiet, typical Georgia rabbit” that was likely fleeing from a predator. The media had its fun with the offbeat story nevertheless. The Washington Post ran a front-page article titled “Bunny Goes Bugs: Rabbit Attacks President,” accompanied by a Jaws-style poster titled Paws, and the Associated Press published an even more sensationalized cartoon of the encounter. 

You may also like