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Considering a world with Jackalopes.

These half-rabbit half-antelope creatures stand a little over 2 feet long when fully grown and have horns like a deer growing 1 to 2 feet in length. Like deer, only grown males have horns, females and young don't.

They all have superior musculature and bone structure to their rabbit cousins, especially in their hind-quarters, making them able to jump astoundingly far (and kick you terrifyingly hard, not to mention ramming those antlers into you). Also, strong necks to hold up those prodigious horns sprouting from their heads.

This is a pretty good approximation of what we're considering here.

Now my question: How would such beasts fight one another? Teeth? Antlers? Kicks?

I'm looking for consideration on male v male, male v female, male v predator, female v predator, and how they would fend off nuisance animals (i.e. regular rabbits invading their territory).

Answers based on similar species real-life behavior are considered best. Physical considerations of having such large horns are appreciated.


A Jackalope

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe link to 'anatomically correct Jackalope'? $\endgroup$ – Jakob Lovern Jan 17 '18 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a reason the answer isn't "all of the above"? $\endgroup$ – rek Jan 18 '18 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ @rek, the answer might be all of the above. I don't know enough about biology to make an informed decision. And perhaps there reasons to favor one way of fighting over another? $\endgroup$ – Kallmanation Jan 18 '18 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ I look forward to reading your apalachiapunk novel. $\endgroup$ – John Meacham Jan 19 '18 at 2:30
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    $\begingroup$ My concern is whether or not a creature like this has enough neck strength to survive constantly smashing his antlers into another. I would say take a look at how the animals fight in real life and then blend the two. Sounds interesting. $\endgroup$ – Len Jan 26 '18 at 17:28
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Male vs. Male: Horns

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Chital, also called spotted deer or axis deer, from India are the smallest deer that I could find with a large tined set of horns. Males are in the 35-50 kg range, so a good bit bigger than I think you intend your jackalopes to be, but not any bigger than a large dog (although they are taller than almost any dog).

Male vs. Female: ummm....

This one isn't really called fighting...

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Either vs. Predator: Run

This is what the jackalopes predators look like.

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Unless they are the size of a bull elk (300 kg or so), no herbivorous animal is going to stop and fight a cougar. Same goes with a wolf pack. A jackalope would run.

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Let's look at how rabbits commonly fight, merge that with the use of antlers, and especially take into consideration their movement and mannerisms.

Rabbits

There are a lot of different rabbit types, but their fighting style tends to differ primarily based on their size.
Smaller Rabbits fight similar to guinea pigs -- jerky movements and nipping at each other.
Larger Rabbits have more fluid movements (relatively), assume dominant stances, and do very little to hurt each other -- relying more on their awkward slap-dance of intimidation.

Rabbit Fight

Deer

Conveniently enough, intimidation is also the primary tactic of most animals that feature antlers. Fighting is usually a harmless dance where both sides stand at a distance, assume intimidating stances, thrust and lock antlers, and perform what is essentially a horned version of arm wrestling.

Jackalope

Assuming that jackalopes would likely be a larger rabbit (to accommodate having antlers), taking into account the movements and mannerisms, perhaps it could occur like this ...

Narrative:
Both sides approach and begin to closely circle each other. Their eyesight remains locked as they grunt angrily, emphasized with each movement. In unison (and as if on cue), they raise up on their hind legs, stretching to increase their height, intent on intimidating their rival.
With neither side yielding, they lunge forward, a single hop, landing on all fours, antlers locked.
Their heads down, and eyes clinched shut, they feverishly move their heads from side to side, antlers clattering.
Then, just as suddenly, they quickly step back -- their small noses flaring and snorting from combined exertion and frustration.
Only a brief moment passes before they raise up to begin the dance once more, determined to make their opponent relent.

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Size

These half-rabbit half-antelope creatures stand a little over 2 feet long when fully grown and have horns like a deer growing 1 to 2 feet in length

Something to consider is whether the Jacklope has horns or antler. These are two different things and will heavily impact how the Jackalope behaves. My answer tries to cater for both scenarios.

hare vs rabbit

The hare can grow to 70cm (2.2ft) which is approximately the size of the Jackalope. A rabbit at full size compared to a hare (or in our case a Jackalope) is considerably smaller, especially when you weight in the upgraded bone structure, muscles and the fact that the male Jackalope has horns/antlers up to 2 feet long on his head! So a rabbit looking up to a Jackalope is going to be scared.

Male versus Male

Horns

The Jackalope typically fights other males as you might have guessed. Horn on horn, the Jackalope fights other males to display dominance over his colony and typical fights usually last a few hours. The Jackalope who exhausts first loses and is outcast by the colony, providing they do not die during the battle.

Antlers

Jackalope will only fight during mating season, when their antlers are fully grown. They have a free for all, male vs male all fighting for the idea mate. The same principles apply that after the battle the losing Jackalope is outcast from the colony, or doesn't get to mate easily, perhaps even at all that season.

Teeth and Legs

Jackalopes also have a few other tricks up their fur, they have razor sharp teeth and tremendous strength on their hind legs. Jackalopes use their rear legs to attack other males. During a male versus male battle, spectators (particularly other males) interpret this as a display of desperation rather than strength, and is usually only used as a last ditch effort.

Teeth on the other hand are a rarely used attack, this is due to the large size of their antlers/horns. It is very rare that another male will be able to get close enough to bite their opponent, especially without receiving some kind of reciprocating attack. However when they do; their long teeth penetrate into their opponent causing a deep wound. This wound leads to some blood loss, but is typically not fatal. In longer duels however, with hearts beating at maximum, blood loss becomes a very serious problem.

Male versus Female

Males do not attack the females, however females do attack the males. If the male in question has defeated the females mate the female will attack using her razor sharp teeth and powerful kick.

The male does attack back but only in self defense, should he feel threatened. The male will refrain from using his horns/antlers out of respect for the female, and he will instead, use kicking to push her away or hurt her enough to make her think twice.

Intentional or not sometimes the male kills the female. When this happens the other Jackalopes lose respect for the male and outcast him from the colony.

As you might have guessed Jackalopes are a respectful species.

Male versus Predator

The Jackalopes predator would have to be fast, a cheetah would be a good animal to use as an example. The Jackalopes cannot out run a cheetah but can make much more precise and agile movements, this is where the Jackalope really shines.

a cheetah

When attacked by a predator the Jackalope runs, it makes fast movements left and right to keep the predator moving its head. As the Jackalope does this it scans the area ahead for any chance of escape. Since the Jackalope is about 2 feet long it can fit in some small spaces (this also depends on whether the Jackalope is male/female and if they have horns/antlers) depending on the environment they live in, let's assume woodland, much like the image below. By darting left and right the predator has to follow it similarly but if the predator stops paying attention for just a second the Jackalope could have quickly darted behind a tree or through some bushes confusing and disorientating the predator.

A woodland forest

Because we are assuming woodland there is the possibility for logs, burrows and bushes to hide in that are much too small for a larger predator to fit in. Should a hiding place not be available the Jackalope will run until it begins to feel tired, at this point it will slow down and wait for the predator to get closer. The female will wait until the predator is very close and will the attack using its rear legs, aiming for the head as much as possible. With such fast and powerful attacks to the face, the typical predator either backs off or pushes through the attacks. This type of attack however tends to lead to being eaten more often by predators.

The male on the other hand uses a similar tactic, except he has horns/antlers. When the male Jackalope turns around to face his opponent he becomes a bigger problem than the predator initially thought. With 2 foot long horns/antlers in his face it becomes a lot harder to grab him where it hurts. He will then use his horns/antlers to attack his opponent by ramming and swiping at his foe.

charging rams

The male Jackalope is known to intervene should he spot another Jackalope under attack, although typically the male Jackalope will attempt to rescue females over other males.

Because the Jackalope is 2 feet long the risk of aerial attacks are small to none, (unless of course this isn't based on Earth as we know it) so we can rule that out. The same goes for aquatic threats, unless the Jackalope is living near water large enough to house potential predators, they shouldnt have any problems there.

Invaders

The typical rabbit is scared of the male Jackalope, although it is known for male rabbits to mate with female Jackalopes and vice versa. This is frowned upon by the colony and is a very rare circumstance however rabbits do not care and are always trying it on.

The male Jackalope spends most of his time somewhere near his mate, if the Jackalope does not have a mate then he spends most of his time trying to win one over, especially in mating season (Some Jackalopes have been observed to have died from exhaustion from not resting in an effort to find a mate).

This means that when rabbits try to invade their territory there is always a male close by to fight them off. Due to the Jackalopes superior strength and size the typical rabbit runs away whilst others fight but ultimately lose having achieved nothing.

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Antlers would be useful against predators because they keep the hungry mouths at a safe distance much in the way early lion tamers were shown to use chairs. An attacker could end up not just with a mouthful of horn but possibly put out an eye. In fights with other jacks it makes sense for antler fighting to be reserved for sort of friendly displays put on to impress mates or settle dominance disputes ie without the intention of real harm and usually resolved by the weaker one submitting.

Anyone who has raised rabbits knows their bite is nothing to ignore and they box viciously clawing the underbelly. I assume that jackalopes have evolved past the problem their Leporidae cousins have with blood pressure that causes them to faint while having sex or frightened.

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Fighting Each Other

I got thinking about the philosophy of fighting in the two component species.

Rabbits are mean... they will kick/bite/tear... they will mess each other up. They fight to destroy their rivals. They will kill each others young... hell they'll kill their own young.

Deer posture. They fight, but in an attempt to identify which rival is superior, this year. Once decided, they more or less peacefully go their own way.

So what does a Jackalope do? Fighting with the intent to maim with ANTLERS... that seems like it would get REALLY messy. But bunnies breed fast, so there will be a whole bunch of fresh combatants next spring.

Posturing bunnies are certainly an option... but a pretty boring one.

Fighting Prey

I was visualizing Jackalopes vs. Predators and I realized something... Rabbits bolt. Hard and Fast... a spooked bunny is just GOING... and they change direction like lightning, reversing their direction effortlessly.

Now picture that same bunny with several pounds of antler on its head.

I think the youtube videos of "Jackalopes attempting to escape" would be hilarious but really sad. The coyotes would get REALLY FAT.

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Like bull elk, they raise themselves off their front feet and use their hind quarters to drive towards each other in an in-and-down motion. Given the agility and high power back legs of the Jackalope I would think a fight between them would look pretty similar to two bull elk in that a lot of the horn clashing motion is vertical but with less binding and horizontal pushing, and more clash and release and clash again as they hop around looking for a flank advantage. A rabbit style hop mode of travel leads itself to this even more than in the elk.

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