Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family:    Leporidae
Size:    Height: 25 inches (63 cm)
Weight: 3 to 13 pounds (1.4 to 6 kg)
Diet: Clover, alfalfa and other greens in the summer; twigs and bark in the winter
Distribution: United States and Mexico
Young:  Up to 8, once per year
Animal Predators:  Coyotes, foxes, bobcats, hawks, badgers and weasels
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Group: Down   Male: Buck  Female: Doe   Young: Leveret
Lifespan: Up to 8 years in the wild and 5 to 6 years in captivity



·       Like all jackrabbits, the black-tailed jackrabbit is really a hare.

·       The network of veins in jackrabbits’ ears help gets rid of excess heat when the weather is hot, and keeps them warm in cool weather.

·       White-tailed jackrabbits live in the northwest U.S. and south-central Canada.

·       The black-tailed jackrabbit is the most common North American hare.



Black-tailed jackrabbits are very lean animals, with long, translucent ears and a black stripe down the back. Their fur is sandy brown and grey in colour, mixed with black. 



Jackrabbits live in the western United States and northern Mexico. They occupy a variety of habitats, including desert scrubland, prairies, meadows and farmlands. They prefer hot, dry regions.


Feeding Habits

During spring and summer when green, leafy plants are in abundance, they prefer to eat clover and alfalfa, as well as other greens, while in the colder months, they sustain themselves on items such as twigs and bark. Jackrabbits nibble throughout the day and eat large quantities of food each day. They rarely drink because they obtain a sufficient amount of moisture from the plants they eat. 



Breeding can occur all year around, with females usually giving birth to up to six litters per year. Each litter can have up to eight leverets, although the usual is three to four. Gestation lasts six weeks and the leverets, who are born fully furred with their eyes open, nurse for up to two weeks. The mother hides them in separate nests to minimize the chance that a predator will find the nest and kill all of them. The mother stays away from them during the day but visits several times a night to nurse them. Within a month they can fend for themselves and by the time they are about a year old, can begin to reproduce. 



Black-tailed jackrabbits are mostly active at night. They usually do not have burrows, but will instead dig a shallow nest where they will not be spotted, under a bush or log to rest in during the day. Because they have so many predators, jackrabbits are extremely alert and on guard at all times. Because their colour works as camouflage, they sometimes freeze in place in order not to be noticed, and only run if the enemy gets too close. Black-tailed jackrabbits can run up to 36 miles (67 km) per hour, and can leap up to 20 feet (6 m) in one bound at top speed.



Black-tailed jackrabbits are not considered a conservation concern. 



Black-tailed Jackrabbit Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US