White-Tailed Jackrabbit facts (Lepus townsendii)


White-Tailed Jackrabbit
Lepus townsendii


General info
Uses their ears to listen for danger and to radiate body heat. Their large ears allow them to release excess body heat and tolerate high body temperatures. Can run from 35 to 50 mph (56 to 80 kph) and cover 6–10 ft (2–3 m) with each bound. Will also swim when being pursued by predators.

Easily distinguished from true rabbits by their large ears, large feet, and generally large body size. Have 1–4 litters per year with 1 to 15 offspring. Gestation is 36–43 days. In most areas, the breeding season of white-tailed jackrabbits averages 148 days and may run late February to mid July. Breeding in the northern Yellowstone eco­system is not well documented.

Summer coat is grayish brown, with a lighter underside. In Yellowstone and other places where there is persistent and widespread snow cover, the coat changes to nearly white in winter. Ears are rimmed with black.

According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).
According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).

2 feet (0.6 m)

3-9 lbs (1.4-4 kg)

1-5 years

Least concern

Found in prairie-grassland and grass-shrub steppe habitat types in western high plains and moun­tains. They generally prefer grass-dominated habitats and have also been found to flour­ish above treeline in the alpine zone and avoid forested areas.

Feeds on grasses, forbs, and shrubs at night and are less active during the day.

They are prolific eaters and can consume over a pound (0.5 kilograms) of grasses, shrubs, or bark each day. Booming jackrabbit populations can cause problems for farmers, especially in light of the animals’ healthy appetite. Jackrabbits are often killed for crop protection, but in general their populations are stable and not in need of protection.


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