The jackalope — also called an antelabbit, aunt benny, Wyoming thistled hare or stagbunny — is a fictional animal and a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, goat, or deer, and is usually portrayed as a rabbit with antlers. The word jackalope and antelabbit are portmanteaus.
Some believe 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.
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.