Jackalope: Unveiling the Mystery of America’s Folkloric Creature The Jackalope

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What is a Jackalope? The jackalope is a creature deeply ingrained in American folklore, largely considered to be mythical. This peculiar beast is often depicted as a hybrid of a jackrabbit and an antelope, sporting the body of the former and the antlers of the latter. Its origins are claimed to be from the American West, where tales of its existence have entertained and intrigued people for generations. As a portmanteau of “jackrabbit” and “antelope,” the jackalope name reflects its supposed mixed heritage. (It is also sometimes spelled “jackelope.”)

jackalope real

While the jackalope may be grounded in lore, it also holds a prominent place in cultural expression. The creature has become a symbol of humor and creativity, with many viewing it as an embodied parody of cryptids—mysterious animals that are believed to exist on the fringe of discovery. Despite its impossibility from a biological standpoint, the jackalope continues to spark curiosity and has become a common motif in tourist memorabilia, echoing its intriguing blend of reality and imagination.

Key Takeaways

  • The jackalope is a legendary creature of American folklore resembling a rabbit with antelope horns.
  • It serves as a whimsical symbol in culture and tourism, though it lacks biological credibility.
  • Comparing the jackalope to other mythical creatures offers insight into folklore’s role in society.

Origins and Folklore


The Jackalope, a creature of North American folklore, is often the subject of campfire stories and myths. This fabled animal is typically depicted as a jackrabbit with antelope horns, and its origins have sparked both amusement and curiosity.

Mythical Beginnings

Are jackalopes real? The legend of the Jackalope suggests a mythical animal birthed from the imagination of storytellers. It is often envisaged amid the folklore of the American West as a creature sitting at the blurry intersection of reality and fantasy, with antlers that defy the biology of a common jackrabbit.

Are Jackalopes Real? Legends Across Cultures

Tales of horned rabbits have traversed various cultures, with the Jackalope becoming a prominent figure in North American folklore. It is a staple in campfire tales and often features in stories that offer a whimsical explanation for the creature’s incongruous appearance.

Douglas Herrick and the First Mounted Jackalope

Douglas Herrick and his brother are credited with popularizing the Jackalope through taxidermy. After hunting a jackrabbit in the 1930s, Douglas and the Herricks brothers used their taxidermy skills to graft deer antlers onto the rabbit’s head, creating the first known mounted Jackalope. This sparked a local and then wider interest, leading to the production of Jackalope hunting licenses as novelty items.

Biology and Mythology

are jackalopes real

The Jackalope is a mythical creature purported to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, deer, or goat. Its defining features stem from folklore and viral infections that affect real rabbits.

Physical Description

The jackalope is traditionally depicted as a rabbit with antlers, a combination of features from two distinct animals: the jackrabbit and the antelope or deer. This creature is often characterized in tales and visual representations by the following traits:

  • Body: Similar to that of a large North American jackrabbit
  • Horns: Resembling those found on an antelope, deer, or goat

Reports and depictions also note tumors that can appear as horn-like growths, adding a layer of plausibility to the creature’s mythical appearance.

Shope Papilloma Virus

The existence of horn-like growths on real rabbits has a basis in biology due to the Shope papilloma virus. This virus can cause the growth of keratinous carcinomas, which can sometimes be horn-like in appearance. The key factors here include:

  • Papilloma Virus: A virus causing warts in various animals, including humans.
  • Tumors: These growths on rabbits can appear similar to the horns of the mythical jackalope.
  • Cancer: The virus can cause a benign or malignant form of cancer, depending on the presence of co-factors.

The biological underpinning found in the Shope papilloma virus offers a possible explanation for historical sightings of horned rabbits, giving a veneer of credibility to the mythological jackalope.

Cultural Impact and Popularity


The jackalope holds a notable place in North American culture, with its epicenter in the town of Douglas, Wyoming, often known as the “Jackalope Capital of the World.” The whimsical creature has influenced media, commerce, and local festivities, celebrating the mythical critter’s role in regional folklore.

Jackalope in the Media

The jackalope mythology has intrigued audiences, leading to its frequent appearances in movies and books. Depictions of jackalopes range from cameos in animation to being the central theme of certain fantasy novels. They are often portrayed as mischievous or magical beings, capturing the imaginations of both young and adult audiences.

Merchandise and Collectibles

The jackalope has spawned a variety of merchandise and collectibles. Shops, particularly in the American West, carry postcards, shirts, and mugs featuring the famed creature. The Chamber of Commerce in Douglas, Wyoming, even offers Jackalope hunting licenses, adding a playful twist to the legend. Wall Drug, the iconic South Dakota tourist stop, has been known to sell jackalope memorabilia, thereby spreading its mythical fame beyond state lines.

Sports Teams

The Jackalope animal is used as a mascot for at least two teams:

A Pioneer League Baseball Team in Grand Junction, Colorado is called the Grand Junction Jackelopes.

The Odessa Jackelopes from Odessa, Texas and are part of the North American Hockey League.

Festivals and Events

Douglas, Wyoming, celebrates Jackalope Day annually. This event, sanctioned by the Douglas Chamber of Commerce, underscores the mythical creature’s significance to the town. Jackalope Day joins other festivals across the American West where the jackalope is hailed as the official mythical creature of Wyoming, cementing its status as a cultural icon.

what is a jackalope animal

In examining the jackalope within the realms of legality and commerce, specific focus centers on its influence in cultural merchandise and the unique aspect of hunting licenses associated with the mythical creature.

Jackalope Hunting Licenses

In the town of Douglas, Wyoming, legislators have indulged in the lore of the jackalope, a creature of myth said to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. They issue novelty jackalope hunting licenses to tourists. These licenses:

  • Are Available For Purchase: But solely as keepsakes or novelties.
  • Contain Specific Stipulations: Such as hunting times limited to twilight hours and the mandate that hunters must have an IQ greater than 72.
  • Contribute to Local Culture: Embracing the legend has become a point of pride and a source of economic gain for Douglas, reflecting the whimsy of local traditions.

Issuance of these licenses is a nod to the cultural significance of the jackalope in certain American folklore and a clever nod to the tourism industry rather than a legal endorsement of hunting a fantastical creature.

Video – Are Jackalopes Real?

Jackalope legend video

Comparison with Other Mythical Animals

The Jackalope shares its mythical status with a diverse range of legendary creatures, each embedded deeply in cultural folklore and characterized by unique and often supernatural features.

Jackalope and Wolpertinger


  • Both the Jackalope and the Wolpertinger are hybrid creatures with features of different animals.
  • They have a common trait of sporting antlers or horns that are typically found on members of the deer family.


  • Origins: The Jackalope is rooted in North American folklore, whereas the Wolpertinger hails from Bavarian culture.
  • Physical appearance: The Wolpertinger often includes additional elements like wings or fangs, aside from the antlers.

Table 1: Comparative Features

Base AnimalRabbitRabbit
Antlers/HornsUsually antlers, like a deer’sOften depicted with both antlers and wings or fangs
Geographic OriginNorth AmericaBavaria (Germany)
Appearance in FolkloreTaxidermy mounts popularized itPart of Bavarian traditional folklore

Legendary Creatures in Folklore

Mythical creatures often serve as cultural symbols or serve to explain the unexplainable. The Jackalope, much like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, represents a creature that defies conventional understanding, stimulating both fascination and skepticism.

  • Unicorn: Often symbolizes purity and has a single, spiraled horn, distinct from the Jackalope’s branched antlers.
  • Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster: These creatures are typically associated with elusive sightings and lack the whimsy of hybrid animal myths.
  • Mythical Creatures and Lore: The allure of creatures like the Jackalope continues to persist in the modern age, much like ancient legends that captivate human imagination.

Bullet List of Notable Mythical Creatures and Their Key Traits:

  • Unicorn: Single horn, symbol of purity
  • Bigfoot (Sasquatch): Large, humanoid figure, elusive nature
  • Loch Ness Monster: Aquatic creature, mysterious sightings
  • Mythical creatures in folklore: Often serve to explain mysteries of the natural world or embody cultural values

The Jackalope’s place in folklore juxtaposes with other creatures based on its playful conception and satirical roots, amidst a pantheon of legendary beings that continue to enchant and mystify.

Frequently Asked Questions

The frequently asked questions section provides concise answers regarding the elusive and mythical jackalope. This includes information about their perceived location, origins, symbolism, potential hazards, creation of trophies, and reported sightings.

Where can one find jackalopes available for purchase?

Jackalopes, though part of folklore, have inspired various products, including taxidermy mounts and artistic representations. They can be found online on sites that specialize in quirky or mythical themed items, offering fast shipping for those looking to acquire a jackalope figure.

What is the origin story of the jackalope myth?

The jackalope myth is believed to have originated in the American West. It gained popularity in the 1930s thanks to Douglas Herrick and his brother, Wyoming hunters with taxidermy skills, who created the first reputed jackalope by combining a jackrabbit with deer antlers.

What symbolism is associated with jackalopes in folklore?

In folklore, jackalopes are often depicted as quick and elusive creatures symbolizing the capacity for life to elude capture or comprehension. They have become emblematic of the playful imagination found in American myth-making, blending reality with fantasy.

Could jackalopes pose a threat to humans or animals?

Although jackalopes are mythical and not real creatures, the legend sometimes comically suggests that they can be fierce if cornered. Such narratives are part of the larger tall tales surrounding the jackalope, which are not grounded in fact.

How do people create and display mounted jackalope trophies?

Mounted jackalope trophies are typically crafted through taxidermy by attaching antlers, often from deer, to a taxidermied rabbit. These creations are then displayed as novelty items or unique conversation pieces in homes and establishments.

In what context have there been reported sightings of jackalopes?

Reported sightings of jackalopes are usually in jest and part of local folklore, especially in the American West. They are treated as playful hoaxes or tourist attractions, with postcards and stories often enhancing local culture and businesses.

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