In Central America, mythological references to a horned rabbit creature can be found in Huichol legends. The Huichol oral tradition has passed down tales of a horned rabbit and of the deer getting horns from the rabbit.The rabbit and deer were paired, though not combined as a hybrid, as day signs in the calendar of the Mesoamerican period of the Aztecs, as twins, brothers, even the sun and moon.
Folklorists see the jackalope as one of a group of fabled creatures common to American culture since Colonial days.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”. According to some reports, Jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. They can run up to 90 miles per hour. Legend also has it that female jackanapes 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!”
During days of the Old West, when cowboys gathered by the campfires singing at night, jackanapes could often be heard mimicking their voices. 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 Jackanapes will only breed during electrical storms including hail, explaining its rarity.
Whether or not the Jackalope exists and roamed is up for debate but the stories of the Jackalope will go on and with it also carry on the legacy of the Old West, a time of when legends ran wild.
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.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.