The black-tailed jackrabbit is actually a hare, not a rabbit. It is
distinguished by its huge, oversized ears, which allow it to hear the
faintest sounds and stay cool during the day.
The nocturnal jackrabbit is well adapted to life in the hot desert and prairie
regions of North America. It lives in open spaces among the thin desert
ground cover of plants such as the sagebrush and cactus. Most of the time, the jackrabbit
is solitary. Like all hares, it lives above ground. During the cool of the evening,
the jackrabbit emerges from its resting place to feed under the cover of darkness.
Its large ears funnel sound and enable it to hear signs of danger. Good hearing is
essential to the survival of the jackrabbit, which is prey to wolves, coyotes, and pumas.
In addition to its excellent hearing, the jackrabbit also has sharp eyesight. Like other
hares, it will sit upright on its haunches so it can better view its surroundings.
Jackrabbits normally breed 9 months out of the year. At the beginning of the
breeding season, males box each other with their forefeet and chase the females, often
kicking and biting them.
Young jackrabbits are born 6 week after mating in a concealed site above ground. The young
have furry coats and their eyes are open. Soon, the mother separates them into individual
hiding places. The young remain in their hiding places until their mother comes to suckle them. Eventually,
they begin eating small amounts of vegetation in addition to their mother's milk.
When the young are weaned after 3 weeks, the female mates again and produces another litter.
The young are sexually mature within a year.
FOOD & FEEDING
Jackrabbits leave their resting places at dusk to feed. Occasionally, they
raid crops and cause extensive damage. When food is extremely scarce, they will survive by
gnawing the bark of trees.
The animals feed for short periods, stopping in between to rest. Long, chisel-like incisor teeth
bite the stems of grass and herbs, which are then chewed and shredded by the flattened molars.
The jackrabbit's eyes are situated on the sides of its head, giving it
all-around vision which enables it to spot danger coming from any direction.
Its fur is brown with black tips, which provides an effective camouflage against brush.
When asleep during the day, the jackrabbit blends into the desert scenery unnoticed.
Its long back legs allow it to run at high speeds to escape from danger.
| Length:24 in., head to tail. Ears, 8in. long|
Around 11 lb. Females are slightly heavier.|
| Sexual maturity:8 months.|
Season: January-September. Spring is peak time.|
| Gestation:41-47 days.|
| Number of
Young: Up to 6. Females may have 3-4 litters a year.|
Nocturnal, solitary except in breeding season.|
| Diet: Grasses, herbs, succulents, woody twigs, and bark.|
| Lifespan:1-5 years in the wild.|
| Related Species|
| There are 21 species of jackrabbit and hare in the United States.
The white-tailed jackrabbit lives in the Northwest.|
DID YOU KNOW?
- Jackrabbits living in the desert rarely drink water. They obtain all the moisture they need from water-retaining plants such as cacti.
- Jackrabbits can reach a speed of 50 miles per hour and can leap as high as 5 feet.
- The undersides of a jackrabbit's feet are covered with long, brushlike hairs, which provide both a grip and a soft cushion on hard surfaces.
- A female jackrabbit usually suckles her young once a day, spending no longer than 5-10 minutes with them.
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