Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) at Pahranagat NWR

(Fig. 01)
06/18/2012 Picture Notes: On a stop at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge I spent a couple of hours walking around its lakes, springs and desert meadows taking in the scenic views and observing the abundant wildlife. Arriving here in the early morning hours, we observed numerous birds, roadrunners, cottontail rabbits and long eared jackrabbits (Figs. 01 – 03) as we hiked around the refuge’s headquarters. Notice the distinct black patch on the huge ears of the Black-tailed Jackrabbit in (Fig. 02). In the short time we were there, we must have seen more than a dozen rabbits nibbling away at a variety of desert vegetation.
(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
Description: The Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), commonly known as the American Desert Hare, is native to the western United States and Mexico. Its ears have a black patch at the tip and are nearly as long as the hind foot. The top of the tail has a black stripe that extends onto its rump, The under-parts are usually clear; upper-parts have a dark buff, heavily sprinkled with blackish hair.  It can reach a length of about 2 feet and weight between 3 to 6 pounds. It is the third largest North American hare, after the antelope jackrabbit and the white-tailed jackrabbit. The black-tailed jackrabbits occupy mostly mixed shrub-grassland terrains. They typically bread in the spring, but depending upon location may continue all year round in warm climates. Their young are borne fully furred with eyes open. Because they are well camouflaged and mobile within minutes of birth, the females do not protect or even stay with the young except during nursing. Average litter size is around four, but may be as low as two and as high as seven in warm regions. They grow rather rapidly and reach adult size in about 7 or 8 months. The black-tailed jackrabbit does not migrate or hibernate during winter and uses the same habitat of between .5 and 1.5 square miles year-round. Its diet is composed of various shrubs and small trees during fall andwinter months and grasses and forbs in spring and early summer. The natural enemies of rabbits include the larger birds of prey and such carnivores as coyotes, foxes, bobcats, badgers, and weasels. When molested it depends on speed and its keen senses of hearing and sight to elude its enemies.