When an old man begged for food, the monkey gathered fruits from the trees and the otter collected dead fish from the river bank, while the jackal wrongfully pilfered a lizard and a pot of milk-curd. The rabbit, who knew only how to gather grass, instead offered its own body, throwing itself into a fire the man had built. The rabbit, however, was not burnt. The old man revealed himself to be Śakra, and touched by the rabbit's virtue, drew the likeness of the rabbit on the moon for all to see. It is said the lunar image is still draped in the smoke that rose when the rabbit cast itself into the fire.
A version of this story can be found in the Japanese anthology Konjaku Monogatarishū, where the rabbit's companions are a fox and a monkey.
Similar legends occur in Mexican folklore, where people also identified the markings on the moon as a rabbit. According to an Aztec legend, when the god Quetzalcoatl lived in Earth as a man, he started a journey. After walking for a long time, he became hungry and tired. With no food or water around, he thought he would die. Then, a rabbit grazing nearby offered himself as food to save his life. Quetzalcoatl, moved by the rabbit's noble offering, elevated the rabbit to the moon, then lowered him back to Earth, and told him, "You may be just a rabbit, but everyone will remember you; there is your image in light, for all men and for all times."
Another Mesoamerican legend tells of the brave and noble sacrifice of Nanahuatzin during the creation of the fifth sun. Humble Nanahuatzin sacrificed himself in fire to become the new sun, but the wealthy god Tecciztecatl hesitated four times before he finally set himself alight to become the moon. Due to Tecciztecatl's cowardice, the gods felt that the moon should not be as bright as the sun, so one of the gods threw a rabbit at his face to diminish his light. It is also said that Tecciztecatl was in the form of a rabbit when he sacrificed himself to become the moon, casting the shadow of a rabbit."