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White-Tailed Jackrabbit: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Learn about this species of hare with the white-tailed jackrabbit facts.

Is your child a fan of Bugs Bunny? Introduce them to this hare and see their excitement when you tell them their favorite cartoon is a white-tailed jackrabbit!

Lepus townsendii, or white-tailed jackrabbits, are primarily inhabitants of western and central North America including Arizona, New Mexico, and other American states. They are widely known as prairie hares or white jacks. Their habitat includes a wide and varied range of locations indicating their high adaptability. These jackrabbits are not known to wander wide away in search of food, choosing to stay close to trails and often revisiting feeding sites.

These jackrabbits are nocturnal mammals remaining active from sunset to sunrise. During the day they rest in shallow depressions called 'forms' dug 10-20 cm in the earth under cover of dense vegetation, unlike rabbits which make underground burrows. These forms are well-connected with feeding sites. The female generally builds the nests. During winters these forms are replaced with cave-like structures in the snow that are connected through underground tunnels.

White jacks are good swimmers and can dive into the water to escape predators. Being solitary creatures, they tend to stay away from humans and other animals. If confronted they will often resort to a zigzag jumping style to slink away. People often mistake these lone hares for abandoned animals and bring them to animal shelters in order to rescue them, however, wildlife experts recommend common folk to leave them in their habitat unless they are injured or sick.

Of late the prairie hares have shown a decline in number in some states like Kansas where they face competition from black-tailed jackrabbits. They are also considered to be farm pests as they destroy crops and hence are killed. Another contributing factor for their dipping numbers is habitat loss as more and more grasslands are converted into agricultural fields to fend off the growing population.

Jackrabbits have an important role in the ecosystem as they are prey to many large predators who are threatened due to loss of habitat and illegal trading. They also keep the vegetation in check with their grazing activities.

Enjoyed learning about this hare? Read on to know more interesting facts.

If you like what you read, you may also check out facts about caribou and kelpie dogs.

White-Tailed Jackrabbit Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a White-Tailed Jackrabbit?

A white-tailed jackrabbit, unlike the name suggests, is a hare although belonging to the same family as rabbits, that is, Leporidae. They belong to the order Lagomorpha and genus Lepus.

What class of animal does a White-Tailed Jackrabbit belong to?

The white-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus townsendii, belongs to the class Mammalia.

How many White-Tailed Jackrabbits are there in the world?

The exact number of jackrabbits is not known as they are found in abundance in the wild.

Where does a White-Tailed Jackrabbit live?

Prairie hares, as this species is commonly known, live primarily in western parts of Canada and throughout the United States in North America. Its habitat ranges from the Great Plains of Saskatchewan, Alberta to Ontario including British Columbia, the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and California. Although found in higher altitudes too, white-tailed jackrabbits prefer the lowlands and prairies which have an abundant source of vegetation and grasses.

What is a White-Tailed Jackrabbit's habitat?

White-tailed jackrabbits usually inhabit grasslands, pastures, farms, forests, and even mountain regions with scattered coniferous trees and deserts. They have a wide range of adaptability and can be found at elevations as low as 40 m to elevations as high as 4300 m.

Who do White-Tailed Jackrabbits live with?

White-tailed jackrabbits are solitary creatures living within a territorial home range of 1-2 miles (2-3 km) in diameter. They are the least social of all hare species only forming groups of three or four during the breeding season.

How long does a White-Tailed Jackrabbit live?

The average lifespan of this jackrabbit is around eight years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season, depending on the latitude, of white-tailed jackrabbit ranges between February and July with March to June being the peak season. These jackrabbits are polyandrous (multiple mating partners). The courting is initiated with up to five males aggressively competing for one female often using charging, leaping, and jostling tactics. The gestation period lasts about 42 days following which the female gives birth to up to 11 leverets (averaging four or five) in nests called forms, lined with vegetation and fur. Unlike rabbits, these hares are born with full fur and open eyes and are fully weaned at about one month. The young hares start foraging at about two weeks and attain sexual maturity at about eight months, although they don't copulate until they are a year old.

What is their conservation status?

The white-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus townsendii, is an animal of Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, the sub-species Lepus townsendii townsendii is considered as a Mammalian species of concern in California where the population is under threat due to competition for food with livestock and grazing activities.

White-Tailed Jackrabbit Fun Facts

What do White-Tailed Jackrabbits look like?

A white-tailed jackrabbit posing among the grass.

One of the largest species of hares, the white-tailed jackrabbit is the largest jackrabbit with a fur coat that can range from dark brown to grayish brown and gray or white underparts. As with hares, they have distinctive long ears and long powerful hind legs. Their ears are chestnut brown on the inside and have the characteristic black tips which remain constant round the year and across all altitudes. The most distinguishing feature of this jackrabbit is its white tail with a dark stripe that sets it apart from the black-tailed jackrabbit. These hares which reside in lands experiencing winter snow molt in autumn to turn white except for the ears which remain unchanged. The juveniles have an appearance similar to that of the adults but a pale grey coat.

How cute are they?

White-tailed jackrabbits can definitely be categorized as cute.

How do they communicate?

These white-tailed mammals use their excellent eyesight and sensitive whiskers to detect food and predators as well as possible mates in the breeding season. They normally do not engage in vocal communication but will emit high-pitched screams if caught or injured. Like most mammals, they also resort to chemical cues to search for reproductive males or females.

How big is a White-Tailed Jackrabbit?

The white-tailed jackrabbit is the largest species of jackrabbits with a length range of 20-26 in (56-65 cm). The females are larger than males. They are also among the largest hare species with only Alaskan hares and Arctic hares being larger than them.

How fast can a White-Tailed Jackrabbit run?

A white-tailed jackrabbit can run really fast when faced with predators, thanks to its long and strong legs. It can run at a speed of 34 mph (55 kph)!

How much does a White-Tailed Jackrabbit weigh?

The average weight of a white-tailed jackrabbit is 5.5-9.5 lb (3-5kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males are called bucks while the females are known as does.

What would you call a baby White-Tailed Jackrabbit?

The young of a white-tailed jackrabbit is called a leveret.

What do they eat?

The food habits of white-tailed jackrabbits depend on their habitat. Being herbivores their diet includes wheat, succulent green plants like clover, and dryland sedge where vegetation is abundant. However, in winters they turn to bark, twigs, and alfalfa.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are not poisonous but they can give you the bite if you accost them. Hence next time you see this furry mammal it's best you adore it from afar.

Would they make a good pet?

The white-tailed jackrabbits are wild hares and best left in the wild. They are not suitable as pets preferring to live a solitary life.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The white-tailed jackrabbits are great leapers and can leap up to a height of 16 ft (5 m)!

These jackrabbits are voracious eaters and have been known to eat 500g of plants daily when in captivity!

They are known to even consume their own feces when high-protein food is unavailable.

In parts of western Canada, jackrabbits foraging for food is a common sight in suburban parks.

The eyes on either side of their heads accentuate their vision.

The female jackrabbit exhibits postpartum estrous.

Their large ears, apart from assisting in predator detection, help in dissipating heat.

Do White-Tailed Jackrabbits attack humans?

White-tailed jackrabbits are not ferocious and pose no threat to humans. However, humans do pose a threat to these furry beasts. They were once hunted for food and fur and even now continue to be game animals.

How to spot a White-Tailed Jackrabbit?

The white-tailed jackrabbit is fairly easy to find as they frequent barns, agricultural fields, and other feeding sites. Their most distinguishing features that help in their detection are their exceptionally long black-tipped pointed ears and white fluffy tails.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Florida panther facts and Coati facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable jackrabbit coloring pages.

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