Our 16th most famous rabbit is not actually one particular rabbit, but rather a mythical creature. Many avid hunters have heard the strange and Unconfirmed stories of the jack-a-lope. Much folklore sprinkled in with some fact has created a mythical being that often is the focus of many jokes. But is it really a myth? What is a jack-a-lope?
A jack-a-lope is a creature born from a dwarf deer and a jack rabbit. It maintains the overall body appearance of a rabbit, but develops horns like a deer.
The jack-a-lope has many outstanding abilities. It can actually mimic any sound including the human voice. When not threatened the jack-a-lope is actually very mild mannered. Threaten a jack-a-lope and they become one of the fiercest animals in the wild. Often using their horns to ward of unwelcome guests.
The New York Times gave credit to Douglas Herrick of Douglas, Wyoming for creating the jack-a-lope. After successfully hunting a hare, sometime in the 1930's, Herrick tossed the rabbit into a room of items needing taxidermy. The rabbit slid up next to a set of deer antlers. Herrick thought it looked great that way and mounted the rabbit with the deer's horns.
Herrick had great success by mixing this new animal with some factual evidence. Souvenirs were created to further their cause. In fact by 1965, the state of Wyoming actually trademarked the name 'jackalope.'
Jack-a-lope hunting licenses can actually be obtained in Douglas. They are valid only between midnight and 2:00am. It is a one day hunting season, scheduled each year for June 31.
Although Herrick and Douglas, Wyoming may have coined the term jack-a-lope, the creature, or one similar has appeared throughout history. A painting by Joris Hoefnagel from the 1570's depicted a rabbit with horns. Robert Benard has a picture in the Encyclopedie Methodque published in 1789 showing a hare with horns.
Each of these stories my actually be based on factual experiences. No, a deer and hare did not breed to produce this offspring. There is however, a disease that can be found in rabbits that can produce horn like structure. The disease is caused by Shope papillomavirus. It is very similar to a human wart. If left untreated this disease will build on itself creating horn like features both on top of the head and around the mouth.
Several websites have been created following the lore of the jack-a-lope. Take some time to visit a few to enhance your knowledge of this creature.