The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a so-called "fearsome critter") described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant's tail (and often hind legs). The word "jackalope" is a portmanteau of "jackrabbit" and "antelope".
The story of the jackalope was popularised in Wyoming in the 1930s after a local hunter used taxidermy skills to graft deer antlers onto a jackrabbit carcass, selling the creature to a local hotel. It is possible that the tales of jackalopes were inspired by sightings of rabbits infected with the Shope papilloma virus, which causes the growth of horn- and antler-liketumors in various places on the rabbit's head and body. However, the concept of an animal hybrid occurs in many cultures, for example as the griffin and the chimera.
The jackalope has led to many outlandish (and largely tongue-in-cheek) claims as to the creature's habits. It is given the pseudo-taxonomic descriptor Lepus temperamentalus.It is said to be a hybrid of the pygmy-deer and a species of "killer rabbit". Reportedly, jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. Legend also has it that female jackalopes can be milked as they sleep belly up and that the milk can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It has also been said that the jackalope can convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice. It uses this ability to elude pursuers, chiefly by using phrases such as "There he goes! That way!" During days of theOld West, when cowboys gathered by the campfires singing at night, jackalopes could often be heard mimicking their voices. It is said that a jackalope may be caught by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The jackalope will drink its fill of whiskey and its intoxication will make it easier to hunt. In some parts of the United States it is said that jackalope meat has a taste similar to lobster. However, legend has it that they are dangerous if approached. It has also been said that jackalopes will only breed during winter electrical storms, explaining its rarity.
The New York Times attributes the story's origin to a 1932 hunting outing involving Douglas Herrick (1920–2003) of Douglas, Wyoming. Herrick and his brother had studied taxidermy by mail order as teenagers, and when the brothers returned from a hunting trip for jackrabbits, Herrick tossed a carcass into the taxidermy store, where it came to rest beside a pair of deer antlers. The accidental combination of animal forms sparked Herrick's idea for a jackalope. The first jackalope the brothers put together was sold for $10 to Roy Ball, who displayed it in Douglas' La Bonte Hotel. The mounted head was stolen in 1977. The jackalope became a popular local story, and Douglas Chamber of Commerce has issued thousands of Jackalope Hunting Licenses to tourists. The tags are good for hunting only during official Jackalope season, which occurs for only one day: June 31 (a nonexistent date as June has 30 days), from midnight to 2 AM. The hunter may not have an IQ greater than 72. In Herrick's home town of Douglas there is a statue of a jackalope, and the town celebrates Jackalope Day every year. In 2005, the House of the Wyoming state legislature passed a bill to declare the jackalope the "official mythological creature" of Wyoming, by a vote of 45-12 and referred it to the state Senate, where the bill was indefinitely postponed on March 2, 2005.
Mythological references to a horned rabbit creature can be found in the Huichol legends. The Huichol oral tradition has passed down tales of the sharing of horns between the deer and the horned rabbit. This folklore may originate in sightings of rabbits affected by the papilloma viral infection, which was reported in the Western United States and Mexico from the 1880s - 1930's. The rabbit and deer have also been paired up as far back as the Mesoamerican period of the Aztecs as twins, brothers, even the sun and moon.
Similar creatures have been recognized for centuries in alpine regions of Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland), including the following: Wolpertinger (Bayern, Germany), Blutschink (Tirol, Austria), Dahu (Switzerland, France), Dilldapp (some specific regions),Elwetritsch (Pfalz, Germany), Hanghuhn (Thüringen, Germany), Raurakl (Schwarzau im Gebirge, Austria), and Rasselbock (Thüringen and Sachsen, Germany).
Since Herrick and his brother began selling manipulated taxidermy heads in the 1930s, such trophies can be found in many bars and homes across the United States. Herrick's postcards of the jackalope also increased the myth's popularity. Ronald Reagan was given a rabbit head with antlers by South Dakotan senator James Abdnor in 1986.
Jackalope legends are sometimes used by locals to play tricks on tourists.
"The Jackalope" or "Jack Ching Bada Bing" was a recurring character in a series of sketches on the American TV show America's Funniest People (1990-1994), where he would play pranks on his nemesis, in a similar style to a Bugs Bunny Cartoon.
Jackalope have also appeared in video games. In Red Dead Redemption, the player is able to hunt and skin jackalope as an in-game challenge. In Redneck Rampage, jackalope are an aggressive enemy encountered early on in the game. Jackalopes play part in an in game event and is also one of the rarest purchasable mini pet in Guild Wars 2.
In the animated television series "Gravity Falls", Jackalopes occasionally appear in the opening sequence and photos.
One version of the popular Linux operating system Ubuntu is named after the Jackalope.
The jackalope is an antlered species of rabbit, unfortunately rumored to be extinct, though occasional sightings of this rare creature continue to occur, suggesting that pockets of jackalope populations continue to persist in its native home, the American West.
The jackalope is an aggressive species, willing to use its antlers to fight. Thus, it is also sometimes called the "warrior rabbit."
Jackalopes possess an uncanny ability to mimic human sounds. In the old West, when cowboys would gather by their campfires to sing at night, jackalopes would frequently be heard singing back, mimicking the voices of the cowboys. Jackalopes become especially vocal before thunderstorms, perhaps because they mate only when lightning flashes (or so it is theorized).
When chased, the jackalope will use its vocal abilities to elude capture. For instance, when chased by people it will call out phrases such as, "There he goes, over there," in order to throw pursuers off its track. The best way to catch a jackalope is to lure it with whiskey, as they have a particular fondness for this drink. Once intoxicated, the animal becomes slower and easier to hunt.
Jackalope milk is particularly sought after because it is believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac (for which reason, the jackalope is also sometimes referred to as the 'horny rabbit'). However, it can be incredibly dangerous to milk a jackalope, and any attempt to do so is not advised. A peculiar feature of the milk is that it comes from the animal already homogenized on account of the creature's powerful leaps.
Douglas, Wyoming has declared itself to be the Jackalope capital of America because, according to legend, the first jackalope was spotted there around 1829. A large statue of a jackalope stands in the town center, and every year the town plays host to Jackalope Day, usually held in June. Jackalope hunting licenses can be obtained from the Douglas Chamber of Commerce, though hunting of jackalopes is restricted to the hours of midnight to 2 a.m. on June 31.
Douglas Herrick, a long-time resident of Douglas, Wyoming, is often credited with popularizing knowledge of the Jackalope. In the 1930s Douglas and his brother Ralph began selling mounted Jackalope heads to the public, and these became wildly popular. Examples of their work can be found in many bars and homes throughout the United States. Jackalope postcards also became a popular Western souvenir. Douglas Herrick died on January 6, 2003 at the age of 82.
The jackalope is now most commonly sighted in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. However, the jackalope does appear to have a European cousin, which in Germany is known as the wolperdinger. In Sweden, a related species is called the skvader.
The Jackalope is said to be a cross between a rabbit and an antelope, hence the name, Jackalope. The creature is also sometimes referred to as the Antelabbit, Horny Bunny, Aunt Benny or Stagbunny and is often portrayed as a common jackrabbit with antelope like antlers on its head. Reportedly, Jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. It has also been said that the jackalope can convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice.
It uses this ability to elude pursuers, chiefly by using phrases such as "There he goes! That way!". Although no Jackalope has ever been captured alive, it is said that a jackalope may be caught by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The Jackalope will drink its fill of the whiskey and its intoxication will make it easier to hunt and catch. It is also legend that the Cherokee Indians would hunt and eat the Jackalope at the end of a vision quest.
Some reasearchers believe that the Jackalopes are an extinct species of Lepus, which allegedly developed a pair of antelope like horns in order to defend itself against carnivorous predators. These pioneering investigators have postulated that through the processes of natural selection and evolution, these long eared herbivores may well have come up with an additional defense mechanism to compliment their already extraordinary speed and burrowing skills. An interesting hypothesis regarding the origin of this unique hybrid comes in the form of a group of small Asian mammals known as anagalids. These primitive mammals, which are related to both rodents and rabbits, may have crossed the land bridge into North America hundreds of thousands of years ago, and embarked upon a frenzy of diversification; some may have sprouted horns and razor-sharp tusks, while others grew to colossal proportions.
Other researchers, including Cryptozologist Sharon Hill, believe the Jackalope was inspired by sightings of ordinary rabbits infected with the Papilloma Virus. This virus would cause the growth of horn or even antler like tumors in various places on the rabbits head and body. Although these strange growths could hardly be mistaken for the stag like sized antlers of often attributed to the Jackalope, it is a possibility that sightings these growths and the human imagination may have combined to create the Jackalope. According to Hill, Americans aren't the only ones to have supposedly come across these curious creatures. She has noted that German folklore tells of a stag like lepus, which they referred to as the Raurack. Reports of a large species of carnivorous, horned rabbit, known as the Miraj, have also hailed from an obscure Island in the Indian Ocean.
The Jackalope has become some what of a joke or novelty as of late, in the American West, mounted heads and postcards of jackalopes are a popular item in novelty stores. Jackalope legends are often used by locals to play tricks on tourists, this joke was employed by Ronald Reagan to reporters in 1980 during a tour of his California ranch. Reagan had a rabbit head with antlers, which he referred to as a Jackalope, mounted on his wall. Reagan liked to claim that he had caught the animal himself, this Jackalope hangs on the ranch's wall to this day. There are also many websites referring to legend of the Jackalope, some may be informative but others have fake photos and films that are supposedly evidence.
The question remains, what is the Jackalope? Could the whole Jackalope legend have been started by sightings of common rabbits with tumors growing from their heads? Or is there actually a form of rabbit that through evolution grew a set of antler like horns as a form of self defence.With no body, other than those which have been cleverly hoaxed by taxadermists, and no fossil record of the mythical creature it would appear that the Jackalope is nothing more than a case of mistaken identity or an over active imagination.
The Evidence For evidence which proves the existence of the Jackalope one must look no further than your local steak house. Modern day Jackalope seems to prefer the walls of family steak houses to the harsh desert areas of the American West once inhabited by there ancestors. And with no physical evidence to support the existence of an actual Jackalope, including no fossil records, the horned rabbit may remain isolated to these restaurant walls.
The Sightings Documented sightings of the Jackalope are almost as rare as the creature its self seems to be. The first reported sighting of the Jackalope is said to have taken place in Douglas, Wyoming in the early 1800’s and was a main stay in local Indian culture, including the consumption of the creature at the end of their vision quest.
The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Classification: Hybrid
• Size: Same As The Common Rabbit
• Weight: Same As The Common Rabbit
• Diet: Local Vegetation
• Location: American West
• Movement: Walking or Hopping As With Modern Rabbits
• Environment: Dusty Plains of the American West