Mojave River Valley Museum
Family: Leporidae Order: Lagomorpha Class: Mammalia
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
Common throughout the state, except at the highest elevations. Abundant at lower
elevations in herbaceous and
areas and open, early stages of forest and
SPECIFIC HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
Feeding: Strictly herbivorous; graze and browse. They prefer grasses and forbs but will
eat almost any vegetation that occurs in the area, up to about 51 cm (20 in) above the ground.
Chew and Chew (1970) found 65% of the diet was shrub browse, and 30% was herbage.
Diet changes with forage availability by season. Coprophagous (Flinders and Hansen 1972).
Cover: Uses shrubs for cover.
Reproduction: Young are born beneath vegetation that provides some overhead cover.
As in other hares (Genus Lepus) no special nest structure is built.
Water: Water is not necessary, but it will be drunk if available.
Pattern: Intermediate canopy stages of shrub habitats, and open shrub/herbaceous and
tree/herbaceous edges provide suitable habitat.
SPECIES LIFE HISTORY
Activity Patterns: Yearlong diurnal and crepuscular activity.
Seasonal Movements/Migration: Non-migratory.
Home Range: Home ranges in California averaged 18.5 ha (45 ac) (Lechleitner 1958). In
Kansas, Tiemeier (1965) estimated home ranges from 4-79 ha (10-194 ac). In Utah,
densities have been calculated at 100 per km2 (260/mi2) (Flinders and Hansen 1973).
Territory: Probably not territorial, at least in Kansas (Tiemeier 1965).
Reproduction: Breeds throughout the year, with greatest number of births occurring from
April through May (Ingles 1965). Gestation period is 43 days. Up to 4 litters of 3-4 young
(range 1-8) produced per yr. Young weaned at 3 wks. A yr-old female may produce 14, or
more, young per yr (Ingles 1965). Populations may fluctuate in 3-6-yr intervals, and may
increase up to 9-fold. This species mostly is solitary, except when mating and raising young.
Niche: Because of their great adaptability, and rapid rate of reproduction, black-tailed
hares can become pests. Tularemia, plague, and skin diseases are carried by this species.
great horned owls,
gopher snakes. Competitors for food primarily include other
grazers and browsers. Also called black-tailed jackrabbit.
Chew, R. M., and A. E. Chew. 1970. Energy relationships of the mammals of a desert shrub
Flinders, J. T., and R. M. Hansen. 1972. Diets and habits of jackrabbits in northeastern
Colorado. Colorado State Univ., Range Sci. Dep. Sci. Ser. 12. 29pp.
Flinders, J. T., and R. M. Hansen. 1973. Abundance and dispersion of leporids within a
shortgrass ecosystem. J. Mammal. 54:287-291.
Ingles, L. G. 1965. Mammals of the Pacific states. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, CA.
Lechleitner, R. R. 1958. Movements, density, and mortality in a black-tailed jackrabbit
population. J. Wildl. Manage. 22:371-384.
Lechleitner, R. R. 1959. Sex ratio, age classes and reproduction of the black-tailed
jackrabbit. J. Mammal. 40:63-81.
Orr, R. T. 1940. The rabbits of California. Calif. Acad. Sci. Occas. Pap. No. 19. 227pp.
Tiemeier, O. W. 1965. The black-tailed jackrabbit in Kansas. Kansas State Univ. Agric. Exp.
Sta., Manhattan. Contrib. No. 336. 75pp.
California Department of Fish and Game. California Interagency
Wildlife Task Group. 2005. California Wildlife Habitat Relationships version 8.1 personal computer program. Sacramento, California.
The Black-tailed Jackrabbit is a member of the hare family. Its fur is a dark buff color that
is peppered with black. It has distinctive long ears tipped with black.
The Black-tailed Jackrabbit spends most of its day resting in a burrow
in the ground. They become active at dusk and throughout the night.
Jackrabbits are strict vegetarians. During the spring and summer, they feed on
various greens. During the fall and winter months, they subsist on woody and dried
Jackrabbits are very alert to their surroundings and watchful of threats.
They rely on their speed to escape
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.
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. Jackrabbits may live up to eight
years in the wild but, like many other animals, they must contend with
bobcats are among the
predators that regularly hunt jackrabbits.
Also see >
Wildlife Watching *
Successful wildlife viewing requires a few simple tricks.
to find out what they are.
The Desert Food Chain *
Everything has its niche. Who eats what, and what eats who in the desert?
to find out what more.