Blacktailed Jackrabbit

 Blacktailed Jackrabbit

Scientific Name: Lepus californicus
Classification: Small game mammal
Size: Head to tail - 16-24 inches. Tail - 2 -5 inches. Ears - 8 inches long.
Life Span: 1-5 years in the wild 

Male jackrabbits can weigh from 9-11 pounds, and females 11-13 pounds. As you can see from their weight, female jackrabbits are larger than males. They can be anywhere from 16-28 inches, with a 2-5 inch tail.


Long ears, their ears can be 8 inches long. Big feet, long hind legs and brushy black tail. Its fur is a dark buff color or silver that is peppered with black that blends in well with its habitat. It has distinctive long ears tipped with black and a prominent black stripe that runs from its rump to the top of its tail.

The soles of a jackrabbit's feet are covered with fur. This cushions their feet on hard ground and insulates them from the scorching heat of the desert sand. Their fur is a silver and tan color that blends in well with the desert and chaparral habitat that it lives in.

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.



Blacktailed jackrabbits are common in nevada's desert and foothill landscapes. Jackrabbits live in the extreme environments of the desert and chaparral, where temperatures are hot during the day and cold at night, and there isn't a lot of rain. They can be found on brushlands, prairies and, pasturelands, and meadows throughout much of the western united states. They prefer to live in open areas where they can see predators coming.



Western u.s., from washington south to california and east to nebraska and texas. The jackrabbit is common in the western united states and northern mexico. The home range of a jackrabbit is about ten acres.


Natural History:

The black-tailed jackrabbit spends most of its day resting in a scratched-out hollow in the ground. They are generally most active at dusk and throughout the night. Under the cover of darkness, they can forage with relative security.

Sometimes the mother will place the young in separate forms to decrease the chances that a predator will find them all. She stays away from them during the daytime and returns several times a night to nurse the young. This is a way of avoiding attracting the attention of a predator. The young can take care of themselves in one month.

Jackrabbits always seem to be on their guard. They are very alert to their surroundings and watchful of potential threats. They rely on their speed to elude predators and, if they are lucky enough to escape, they will flash the white underside of their tail to alert other jackrabbits in the area.

The white underside of the tail is flashed when escaping from a predator. This may confuse the predator or warn other jackrabbits of danger. Jackrabbits will also thump the ground with their big hind feet to signal danger.

Jackrabbits have huge ears. It can regulate its body heat by increasing or decreasing the blood flow through its ears. This helps the jackrabbit absorb heat or cool off.

With its long, rangy legs it can run in bursts of up to 36 mph. Their incredible speed helps them outrun many of their enemies.


Food Habits:

Jackrabbits are strict vegetarians. During the spring and summer, they feed on clover, alfalfa and other abundant greens. During the lean fall and winter months, they subsist on woody and dried vegetation.
Jackrabbits are herbivores. They leave their resting spots at dusk to feed on tough grasses, leaves, and twigs. They will also eat sagebrush and cacti. They only come out at night to feed. They conserve water by eating their food twice. Jackrabbits are coprophagic, meaning they eat their own waste . When eating their feces the second time, they can absorb more of the moisture and nutrition that was missed in the first digestive process. Jackrabbits rarely have to drink and get most of their water from the plants they eat. Fifteen jackrabbits can eat as much as one full-grown cow in one day. Occasionally, they raid crops and cause extensive damage.



Black-tailed jackrabbits mate year around. They have one to four litters per year with one to eight young per litter. Young jackrabbits are born bright-eyed and active, and after only one month they can fend for themselves. They reach sexual maturity in 1 year. After mating, the female, or doe, will have a litter of 1-6 leverets every 3-4 months. The mother will leave the leverets in separate hiding places, and come back in the evening to nurse each one. After one month they are on their own. When the young are weaned after 3 weeks, the female mates again and produces another litter.



Unprotected. Prey.


Reason for Status:

Nevada has a high blacktailed jackrabbit population and the animal has historically been unprotected in the state.


Management & Conservation:

The jackrabbit is common in the western united states and northern mexico, and in many places is considered a pest. People put up fences and poison to try to control them. Hawks, coyotes and badgers are among the predators that regularly hunt jackrabbits.


Fun Facts:

Hares are different from rabbits because their babies, called leverets, are born with all their fur, and their eyes open.

There are 21 species of jackrabbit and hare in the united states.