Black-tailed Jackrabbit

The Black-tailed Jackrabbit is not actually a rabbit, but a hare! They have big feet, long hind legs, and ears sometimes up to 8 inches long. They can be distinguished by the black tips on their ears and black stripe running from their rump to their tail.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Lepus californicus
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
1-5 Years
SIZE
16-28 ” | 9-13 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Unprotected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Furbearer
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Black-tailed Jackrabbits live in desert scrubland, farmlands, dunes, and open prairies; especially favoring arid regions and agricultural areas with short grasses and crops.

  • Cold desert shrubland and sagebrush
  • Grasslands
  • Mojave desert

Threats

  • Habitat Destruction
  • Overpopulation (only affects young Black-tailed Jackrabbits)
  • Predation
  • Tularemia (bacteria disease)

Natural History

Black-tailed Jackrabbits are herbivores, eating plants such as sagebrush, young trees, and even cacti. These mammals rely on speed, camouflage, and ‘freezing’ when they are spotted when avoiding predators (mainly coyotes and foxes). If they do feel threatened, they may zig-zag as fast as 30-35 miles per hour and leap 20 feet at a bound! If they are lucky enough to escape, they will flash the white underside of their tail to alert other jackrabbits in the area or thump the ground with their big hind feet to signal danger. They are mostly nocturnal, spending their time foraging from sunset to sunrise and resting in shallow depressions they dig under bushes during the day. Black-tailed jackrabbits can mate year-round with their peak breeding season between December through September. Females can have multiple litters every year and eight young (also called “leverets”) per litter. Sometimes the mother will place the young in separate hiding places 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 to avoid attracting the attention of a predator.

Fun Facts

Mother Black-tailed Jackrabbits will only nurse their young for two to three days before leverets are ready to forage on their own! Although they are related to rabbits, jackrabbits are actually not true rabbits, but true hares!