The jackalope — also called an antelabbit, aunt benny, Wyoming thistled hare or stagbunny — in folklore is said to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope (hence the name), goat, or deer, and is usually portrayed as a rabbit with antlers.
Some believe that the tales of jackalopes were inspired by sightings of rabbits infected with the Shope papillomavirus, which causes the growth of horn- and antler-like tumors in various places on the rabbit's head and body (ala wolpertinger). However, creatures such as the griffin and the chimera perhaps suggest that the concept of an animal hybrid occurs in many cultures.
One common southwestern species of jackrabbit is called the antelope jackrabbit, because of its ability to run quickly like an antelope; it would have been easy enough to imagine instead (for comic effect) that this jackrabbit had the horns of an antelope.
The legend 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.
The flying variation
The flying jackalope is a variation originating in Wall, South Dakota
. The flying jackalope looks like a cross between the standard jackalope and a chicken
. The stuffed
versions have a chicken body with a jackalope head, or a jackalope body with chicken wings.
In the American West, mounted heads and postcards of jackalopes are a popular item in some novelty stores. 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.
Some local governments, such as Douglas, Wyoming, have issued jackalope hunting licenses to tourists. The tags are good for hunting during official jackalope season, which occurs for only one day, February 30th.
Appearances in popular culture
Television & film
- A jackalope character named Swifty Buckhorn appears as a supporting character in the 1992 ABC animated television series Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa.
- A jackalope appears in the episode "Appa's Lost Days" of the Asian-influenced animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. What is especially notable here is how well this happens to fit into the Avatar world, which contains an animal kingdom almost totally consisting of animal hybrids.
- A jackalope is featured in the feature-length animation Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000) when Scooby and Shaggy follow it to the hole where the fake aliens are digging up gold for profit.It is also seen in the end of the last scene where it looks at the stars symbolising the two mysteries the jackalope and the aliens from the sky
- 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.
- The "mousealope" (a play on the jackalope) was used in an episode of Pinky and the Brain as a key part of one of Brain's plots.
- Pixar Animation Studios created a short film, "Boundin'" (2003), that features a wise, nameless jackalope as a main character. "Boundin'" was nominated for a best short film Oscar.
- A jackalope appears in the 2006 animated film Open Season.
- In the episode "Kindred Spirits" of the Nickelodeon cartoon, Danny Phantom, while Sam and Tucker are in the Specter Speeder above Colorado, Tucker looks out the window and points out a jackalope, as well as a mongoose.
- In Jackie Chan Adventures Episode 59, "Rabbit Run", the noble rabbit was disguised as a jackalope with fake antlers to be the mascot of an American football team in Douglas, Wyoming. When Jackie caught it, the coach of the team said it was their mascot but Jackie noted it had no antlers (the fake antlers had fallen off during the chase).
- In Reno 911! while discussing constellations, Deputy Junior makes references to the "Jackalope" constellation.
- In Waiting..., there is a jackalope on the wall of the restaurant "Shenaniganz"
- A stuffed jackalope appears in Frasier (next to Martin Crane's armchair); Niles refers to it as "Texas' answer to the Minotaur".
- Carson Daly gave comedian Harland Williams a mounted jackalope head when he appeared on Daly's late night talk show.
- In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Will Ferrell's character compares himself to a jackalope during an interview on the DVD extras.
- In the film Brokeback Mountain, the character played by Randy Quaid has a jackelope head hanging in his office.
- In the 2007 parody film Epic Movie, Jennifer Coolidge who plays The White Bitch wears a jackalope headdress in the battle scene.
- In the 2007 film First Snow, at the roadside stop where the psychic lived, there is a vendor selling handcrafted jackalope statues; the psychic has one in his office.
- The Odessa Jackalopes are a CHL minor league hockey franchise affiliated with the New York Islanders located in Odessa, Texas.
- The Syracuse Jackalopes are a club running team based out of Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.
- The Reno Silver Blades Fencing Club hosts an annual fencing tournament called the Jackalope Triple Crown. The first place trophy is always a jackalope made from a stuffed bunny.
- In the real-time strategy game Age of Empires III jackalopes appear as a treasure called "The Elusive Jackalope", which can give whoever gets it 240 XP (experience).
- A jackalope was featured on the cover of Sam & Max Hit the Road, a computer game. Within the game, when Sam sees jackalope figurines in a kitschy roadside shop, he calls them "the bastard pets of Piltdown Man."
- A jackalope character appears in the first chapter of the computer game King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride.
- The jackalope appears as a monster in the roleplaying game Deadlands, where it has the power to cause bad luck.
- In Rampage: Total Destruction there is a monster known as Jack the Jackalope.
- There are hordes of jackalopes to shoot at in Redneck Rampage Rides Again.
- In Urbz: Sims in the City the main character can create a jackalope on a DNA island as a pet.
- In the Nintendo DS version of The Sims 2, you can purchase a statue of a jackalope.
- The Exodus set of Magic: the Gathering has a common card named . Many of the animals shown have multiple sets of antlers and at least one has tusks, showing a visual similarity to real rabbits with shope papillomavirus.
- The new pet system integrated in version 9 of FlyFF, a Korean originated computer RPG, includes a jackalope as a pet that increases the character's dexterity.
- Version 9.04 of Ubuntu will be named Jaunty Jackalope.