The Jackalope: Real, or Mythological Creature?

To some people, the Jackalope is nothing more then North American Folklore. But tales of a horned rabbit go much further back in history, and span many continents. Could the jackalope be based on a real creature?

Animalia_Qvadrvpedia_et_Reptilia_(Terra)_Plate_XLVIIIn the middle ages, there is evidence of the belief in a horned rabbit species in Persia, as well as Bavaria (where it was locally known as the Wolpertinger). In Austria they called the horned bunnies raurackl, and in Switzerland they were known as a dillsapp.

In 1575, a Natural History Text “ Animalia Qvadrvpedia et Reptilia (Terra) by Joris Hoefnagel, included illustrations of a horned rabbit in a section on types of hare’s.

Throughout the Renaissance, many scientific texts listed a type of horned rabbit as a real animal. However, by the late 1800’s, most of the scientific community wrote of the jackalope as nothing more the folklore. (It is to be noted that these same scientists of the late 1800’s also wrote off the giant squid, and mountain gorilla as folklore).

Asia, Africa, and Central America have all also had legends and sightings of horned rabbits going back through antiquity. The Huichol legends of Central America tell a tale where deer received their horns from the rabbit.

In 1932, American taxidermist, and hunter Douglas Herrick made a jackalope by combining a rabbit carcass, with deer antlers. The fake jackalope was sold to a hotel, and mounted on prominent display. The jackalope drew so much attention from tourists, that the local chamber of commerce began issuing jackalope hunting licenses to tourists. The hunting licenses are good for hunting during official jackalope season, which occurs for only one day: June 31…

The jackalope is claimed to have the ability to imitate the human voice. In the Old West, when cowboys gathered by the campfires singing at night, jackalopes could reportedly be heard mimicking their voices.

A member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, John Colter, is the first American on record of reporting a jackalope sighting. He also reported seeing many other things that people of the time didn’t believe. Like spouting geysers and bubling mudpots along a river later to be called Yellowstone.

The website claims: The Jackalope (Lepus-temperamentalus) is one of the rarest animals in the world. A cross between an extinct pygmy-deer and a species of killer-rabbit, they are extremely shy unless approached.

Jackalope_101Known by the ancients as “deerbunnies”, it wasn’t until the early 1960’s that the modern more fearsome “jackalope” name was adopted.

It is written that you can extract a Jackalope’s milk as it sleeps belly up at night. The milk is belived to be medicinal and can be used for a variety of afflictions. The truth is these creatures are aggressive and unpredictable, and should not be provoked for any reason!

The government wants you to believe they aren’t real, but there are many who believe. The evidence is mounting!

During a hunting trip in the western United States in the 1930s, Dr. Richard Shope of Rockefeller University overheard a friend talk of seeing horned rabbits. Dr. Shope asked his friend to send him some samples of these horns, which he did. Under the microscope, the horns turned out to be warts that formed horn-like protrusions on the rabbit’s head.

Dr. Shope and other scientists eventually figured out the cause of the horns was a virus called papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer in humans. This set researchers down the long path that led to the cervical cancer vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006.

Are these infected rabbits the real jackalopes? Are there other rabbits that have grown horns not due to illness? Sightings continue to this day, but are they only sightings of infected rabbits? Or are their true jackalopes out there?

It would seem to me that the jackalope has a unique ability to remain hidden in the cryptozoological world. I live in an area with a rather large rabbit population. However, I rarely actually see one. On the few occasions that I have seen a feral rabbit around, it is usually at night, and catch a glimpse of its tail as it leaps into the bushes, and undergrowth of the surrounding woods. If I had seen a jackalope, I would never know it. I rarely encounter rabbits head on in the day. Therefore it seems very easy for the jackalope to hide in plain sight as it where. With any sightings usually written off as a rabbit and a trick of light and shadow.

Have you seen a Jackalope? Feel free to tell us you Jackalope sighting stories in the comments below.



  1. I would like a few more predators in my yard. The seriruqls and rabbits — that is, the vermin — need to be eradicated. The chipmunks are gone, thanks to a neighbor’s cat.Coyotes are good for them, but maybe not so for just as bad vermin – deer. There, you really need wolves. See unintended consequences of killing wolves.Leaves other predators with a competitive advantage.Interestingly, supposedly the population most affected in Yellowstone by the reintroduction of wolves was the coyote population – cut in maybe half. Not sure though how much of that was because the wolves out-competed the coyotes, or that they preyed on them. The logical answer to any coyote problem (as with a deer problem) is to declare open season on them. But, cities and towns have long banned discharging firearms within the city limits, and that includes hunting. Bow hunting might work with deer, but likely won’t with coyotes.

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  5. A few years ago, coming back from a hunting trip with my sister, this fairly large, strange creature with the back legs if a hare but sporting antlers, leaped across the road, heading to the bush. We both made a double take and could hardly believe what we had just seen. As soon as we got home, we searched online to find out what we had seen and came up with the jackalope. Of course our husbands told us it couldn’t be and laughed at us, but to thus day we are sure if what we saw. This article has affirmed our belief. Thank you.

  6. I have seen one in the northern forests of Sweden it has attacked me. Unlukyyyyyyyy

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