This article is about the animal. For other uses, see Jackalope (disambiguation).
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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 "antalope", an archaic spelling of antelope.

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-like tumors in various places on the rabbit's head and body.[1][2] However, the concept of an animal hybrid occurs in many cultures, for example as the griffin and the chimera. Indeed, the term chimera has become the categorical term for such composites within the English language.

A common southwestern U.S. species of jackrabbit is called the antelope jackrabbit, because of its ability to run quickly like an antelope. It is easily imagined that this species might be humorously misconstrued to possess horns and represent a jackrabbit-antelope cross.


The myth of the jackalope has bred the rise of many outlandish (and largely tongue-in-cheek) claims as to the creature's habits. For example, 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!" 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 electrical storms including hail, explaining its rarity.

Jackalopes are legendary in the U.S. – attributed to by the New York Times in 1932 to Douglas Herrick (1920–2003) of Douglas, Wyoming, and thus the town was named the "Home of the Jackalope" by the state of Wyoming in 1985. The state of Wyoming trademarked the name in 1965. According to the Douglas Chamber of Commerce, a 1930s hunting trip for jackrabbits led to the idea of a Jackalope. Herrick and his brother had studied taxidermy by mail order as teenagers. When the brothers returned from a hunting trip, Herrick tossed a jackrabbit carcass into the taxidermy store, where it came to rest beside a pair of deer antlers. The accidental combination of animal forms sparked Douglas Herrick's idea for a jackalope.[3] 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.[4] The 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.[5] 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.[6]

More mythologic references can be found in the Huichol legends of the deer and the horned rabbit. The Huichol oral tradition has passed down tales of the sharing of horns between the two animals. This folklore may be due to the papilloma viral infection of the Western United States and Mexico from the 1880s - 1930's.[7] The rabbit and deer have also been paired up as far back as the Mesoamerican period of the Aztecs[8] as twins, brothers, even the sun and moon.[9]


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Jackalope legends are sometimes 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. Reagan's jackalope hangs on the ranch's wall to this day.

Appearances in popular culture

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Television and film

  • A Frankenstein's monster styled Jackelope called One-Eyed Jack is portrayed in Tiny Toon Adventures, Season 3, Episode 93 "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain".
  • A jackalope character named Swifty Buckhorn appeared as a supporting character in the 1992 animated television series Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa.
  • A jackalope, voiced by Dave Coulier and officially named Jack Ching Bada-Bing after a viewer contest to come up with a name for the character, was featured in the U.S. television show America's Funniest People. The character would laugh a lot while playing mean tricks on people (usually to punish those who had themselves been mean to others). Its catch-phrase was "Fast as fast can be, you'll never catch me!" It was also featured on the very first show produced for Nickelodeon, Out of Control, which was (like America's Funniest People) hosted by Coulier.
  • In the movie Remember Me a Jackalope can be seen in Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson) apartment on the wall mounted as a deer would be.
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  • A jackalope appears as a speaking character in the Pixar short film Boundin', where it teaches the lead character how to 'bound'.


  • A Canadian industrial music band has named itself for the animal, using the spelling Jakalope.
  • Electronic pop band Miike Snow uses a Jackalope as a band logo
  • The rock band Supersuckers recorded a song called "Creepy Jackalope Eye" on their second studio album, La Mano Cornuda. The song was also covered by Steve Earle on his album Sidetracks.



  • The Museum of Natural History at University of Kansas has specimens of the cottontail rabbit with horny growths on display which illustrate and explain possible origins of the jackalope myth that has existed for over 300 years in Europe, Africa, Central America and the United States. The exhibit theme will document the virus "Shope papilloma" [1] which causes horny growths observed in local cottontail rabbit populations.
  • Charles "Darby" McQuade, founder of Jackalope Stores, once tried to buy a horned jack-rabbit from two irrigation pipe workers in Lazbuddie, Texas. They found this animal stuck within a pipe and named it the "Lazbuddie Jackalope" due to its two-inch horn in the middle of its forehead. Howard Watson, Publisher of the West Texas Ranger newspaper reported on it and the news quickly made its way to Darby in Santa Fe, New Mexico. By the time he found the two workers by telephone, the jackalope had already met its demise at the jaws of a dog, unfortunately.[2]
  • A children's picture book by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel, Jackalope, details a humorous version of the jackalope legend.[3]
  • Ubuntu Linux version 9.04 is referred to as "Jaunty Jackalope" by its codename. Ubuntu codenames for software releases usually are composed of an alliterative name using an adjective and an (usually endangered) animal.
  • A minor league American hockey team is named the Odessa Jackalopes.


  1. Beard, J.W., and Peyton Rous 1935 "Effectiveness of the Shope Papilloma Virus in Various American Rabbits." Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biological Medicine. 33(1):191-193.
  2. The West Texas Ranger April 6, 1991 Pg 8-9

External links

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