Do Rabbits Have Antlers? [The Origin of the Jackalope Myth]

HomeHealthDo Rabbits Have Antlers?

Rabbits do not have antlers. The Jackalope is a mythical creature that resembles a rabbit with antlers, but it does not exist. However, rabbits can have papillomavirus, which may cause growths on their heads that look like horns or antlers.

Rabbits are lagomorphs, a group of animals that also includes hares and pikas. Like other lagomorphs, rabbits have long hind legs and short front legs and tend to hop when moving. Lagomorphs differ from most other mammals because they have two pairs of upper incisor teeth.

However, one thing you will NOT find on rabbits is antlers. But how did this myth get started? And why do some people swear they’ve seen rabbits with antlers?

Believe it or not, there’s a scientific explanation!

Rabbit Antlers: Fact or Fiction?

There are no species of rabbits that have antlers. The closest thing to a rabbit with antlers is the mythical Jackalope.

The Mythical Jackalope

The Jackalope is a creature that resembles a rabbit with horns or antlers. The legend of the Jackalope has persisted for centuries, and there are many stories about how this myth started.

One popular theory is that taxidermists created the Jackalope as a hoax. Taxidermists would take a rabbit carcass and attach horns or antlers to it, creating a bizarre-looking creature they could sell to unsuspecting customers.

Another theory is that the legend of the Jackalope started with Native Americans. Some tribes would tell stories about an animal called the wolpertinger, which was said to be a cross between a rabbit and a deer. It’s possible that these stories were eventually misinterpreted and led to the creation of the Jackalope legend.

Why Has The Jackalope Myth Persisted For So Long?

People may have mistakenly identified rabbits with antlers in artwork or literature. For example, in the book “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter, there is an illustration of a rabbit wearing what looks like a pair of antlers.

It’s also possible that people have seen rabbits with growths on their heads and misinterpreted them as antlers.

Let’s further explore this idea.

Why Some Rabbits May Appear to Have Antlers

So if rabbits don’t have antlers, why do some people swear they’ve seen them? The answer lies in a condition called rabbit papillomavirus (RPV).

What Exactly Are Antlers?

Before we get into RPV, let’s define what exactly antlers are.

Antlers are horns that grow on the heads of deer and other cervid family members, including elk, moose, and caribou. Antlers are made of bone and covered in a layer of soft tissue called velvet.

Male deer grow antlers annually, and they shed them and grow new ones annually. The size and shape of a deer’s antlers depend on the species, as well as the health and age of the individual animal.

Antlers are used for various purposes, including mate attraction, intimidation of rivals, and defense against predators.

Rabbit Papillomavirus

RPV is much different than antlers. RPV is a virus that affects rabbits and can cause the growth of tumors on their skin. These tumors can take on a variety of different shapes and sizes. In some cases, they may resemble horns or antlers.

The virus is spread through contact with other rabbits and can be passed from mother to offspring.

There is no cure for RPV, and the virus can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Growth of tumors on the skin
  • Loss of fur
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty eating or drinking

Although some rabbits with RPV may appear to have antlers, it’s nothing more than tumors.

No Other Lagomorphs Have Antlers Either

Lagomorphs are a group of animals that includes rabbits, hares, and pikas. They have long hind legs, short front legs, and they tend to hop when they move. Lagomorphs differ from most other mammals because they have two pairs of upper incisor teeth.

Notice how none of those features included antlers?

The Final Verdict: Do Rabbits Really Have Antlers?

So, do rabbits really have antlers? The answer is a resounding no! Rabbits are lagomorphs, and they do not have antlers. However, some rabbits may appear to have antlers due to the presence of tumors caused by the rabbit papillomavirus.

While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see a real-life Jackalope, the next time you see a rabbit with what appears to be antlers, you’ll know that there’s a scientific explanation for it!

Bryan Moore
Bryan Moore
I am Bryan, owner of I love all animals but find myself especially drawn to rabbits. I have been very lucky to be able to turn my passion into my profession, and I am grateful every day that I get to do what I love. It is my hope that through this website, I can help others learn more about these wonderful creatures and provide them with all the information they need to care for their own rabbit. View my Full Author Page Here

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