White-tailed Jackrabbit

The White-tailed Jackrabbit is not actually a rabbit, but a hare! They are the largest rabbit species in Nevada. They have long ears and legs with a dusky gray body and characteristically white tail. However, during the winter, their fur turns mostly white.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Lepus townsendii
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
1-5 Years
SIZE
22-26 ” | 6.6-13 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Upland Game
  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

White-tailed Jackrabbits prefer open grasslands, pastures, and fields and can also be found living in forested areas and high alpine tundra.

  • Cold desert shrubland and sagebrush
  • Grasslands
  • Upland Forests

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Predation

Natural History

The White-tailed Jackrabbit is a strict herbivore. In the summer they eat mostly green plants and flowers that are high in water content. They are nocturnal, feeding mainly from sunset to sunrise and resting during the day under plant cover in shallow depression dug out in the soil called “forms.” This species breeds during early summer and females will bear multiple litters of one to eleven young each year. The young, known as “leverets,” are born fully furred with their eyes open. Females only nurse the offspring for two to three days and are not seen with their young after that. The females do not make a formal nest, they will give birth and raise their young in the ‘forms’ they create under plant cover. Males, called bucks, fight furiously during the mating season, mostly by kicking out with their hind feet and biting when they can. White-tailed Jackrabbits are an important prey source for predators in the area including foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, badgers, snakes, and even raptors (owls, eagles, and hawks). These jackrabbits will lie perfectly still in their forms to avoid being eaten, relying on camouflage to blend into their environment.

Fun Facts

If White-tailed jackrabbits are spotted by predators or if they feel threatened, they will travel in twelve to 20-foot leaps, maintaining a speed of 35 miles per hour and reach 45 miles per hour for short periods! When cornered, it can even swim, dog paddling with all four feet.