Field Guide/Mammals/White-tailed Jackrabbit
|Lepus townsendii (White-tailed Jackrabbit)|
Family: Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)
Size: White-tailed jackrabbits weigh 6.61 to 8.81 lbs (3 to 4 kg), and range from 22 to 25.6 inches (558-650 mm) in total length.
Description: The white-tailed jackrabbit’s coat color varies with season and habitat. The back ranges from yellowish to grayish brown in color while the underside is white or grey. The throat and face are darker with coarser hair. Its tail is white with a buffy dorsal stripe. Their ears are rimmed in white and tipped in black. Two distinguishing features are their large ears and hind legs.
Similar Species: The white-tailed jackrabbit is the least social of all hares. They can also be distinguished from other hares due to their prominent flanges projecting from the sides.
Range: The white-tailed jackrabbit’s range within the United States including: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois.
Habitat: The white-tailed jackrabbit is typically found in open grasslands, forests, pastures, and fields.
Diet: White-tailed jackrabbits are strict herbivores. They want grasses, forbs, and shrubs in varying amounts.
Activity: White-tailed jackrabbits are nocturnal. They generally feed from sunset to sunrise and rest in shallow forms during the day. They do not hibernate in the winter.
Reproduction: The White-tailed jackrabbit’s breeding season extends from February to July with a peak from March to June. gestation typically lasts 42 days. Their litter size ranges from 1 to 11, but averages at 4-5. Females may have one to four litters per year, however a maximum of one litter is produced in northern climates. The young are fully weaned at one month, and sexually mature after 7-8 months.
Lifespan: Up to 5 years in the wild.
Notes: The white-tailed jackrabbit is the least social of all hares. In terms of communication, the species generally make no vocal noises, but screams if caught or injured. They have acute hearing and a sharp sense of smell. They also have good vision and whiskers that allow them to navigate to find food. These senses help them perceive their environment.
The white-tailed jackrabbit is a favorite prey of animals such as foxes, coyotes, cougars, badgers, bobcats, snakes, eagles, and owls. They avoid predators by lying perfectly still. They are also proficient swimmers, which helps them to escape predators.White-tailed jackrabbits are a large population and are considered a “least concern” species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Wallmo, O.C. (1984), "Odocoileus hemionus", Mammalian Species (219): (1–9)
- Gosline, A. (2001), ADW:Lepus townsendii: INFORMATION, http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Lepus_townsendii/, retrieved October 7, 2012
- Smith, A.T.; Johnston, C.H. (2008), Lepus townsendii (White-tailed Jackrabbit), http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41288/0, retrieved October 7, 2012