Black-tailed Jack Rabbit

Lepus californicus

Summary 3

The black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), also known as the American desert hare, is a common hare of the western United States and Mexico, where it is found at elevations from sea level to up to 10,000 feet (3,000 m).
The black-tailed jackrabbit occupies plant communities with a mixture of shrubs, grasses, and forbs. Shrubland-herb mosaics are preferred over pure stands of shrubs or herbs. Black-tailed jackrabbit is common in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.),[10] creosotebush (Larrea tridentata),[11] and other desert shrublands; palouse, shortgrass, and mixed-grass prairies; desert grassland; open-canopy chaparral; oak (Quercus spp.)[12] and pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.)[8] woodlands; and early seral (succeeding each other), low- to mid-elevation coniferous forests.[13] It is also common in and near croplands, especially alfalfa (Medicago sativa) fields.[8]
Female black-tailed jackrabbit do not prepare an elaborate nest. They give birth in shallow excavations called forms that are no more than a few centimeters deep. Females may line forms with hair prior to giving birth, but some drop litters in existing depressions on the ground with no further preparation.[16] Young are borne fully furred with eyes open, and are mobile within minutes of birth.[8] Females do not protect or even stay with the young except during nursing.[18] Ages of weaning and dispersal are unclear since the young are well camouflaged and rarely observed in the field. Captive black-tailed jackrabbit are fully weaned by 8 weeks.[17] The young stay together for at least a week after leaving the form.[8][18]
The black-tailed jackrabbit diet is composed of shrubs, small trees, grasses, and forbs. Throughout the course of a year, black-tailed jackrabbit feed on most if not all of the important plant species in a community.[22] Growth stage and moisture content of plants may influence selection more than species. Shrubs generally comprise the bulk of fall and winter diets, while grasses and forbs are used in spring and early summer. This pattern varies with climate: herbaceous plants are grazed during greenup periods while the plants are in prereproductive to early reproductive stages, and shrubs are utilized more in dry seasons.[22][23] Shrubs are browsed throughout the year, however. Most of a jackrabbit's (Lepus spp.) body water is replaced by foraging water-rich vegetation.[17][24] Jackrabbit require a plant's water weight to be at least five times its dry weight in order to meet daily water intake requirements. Therefore, black-tailed jackrabbits switch to phreatophyte (deep-rooted) shrubs when herbaceous vegetation is recovering from their foraging.[24]

Plant species used by black-tailed jackrabbit are well documented for desert regions. Forage use in other regions is less well known. However, black-tailed jackrabbit browse Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), lodgepole pine (P. contorta), and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) seedlings, and oak (Quercus spp.) seedlings and sprouts.[12][13]

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Mike Baird, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://www.flickr.com/photos/72825507@N00/3580133813
  2. (c) Robert Shantz, all rights reserved, uploaded by nataliemarisa, http://www.arizonensis.org/sonoran/fieldguide/vertibrata/lepus_calif.html
  3. Adapted by nataliemarisa from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepus_californicus

More Info

iNat Map

Taxa mammal
Endangered status least concern