Antelope Jackrabbit

[jackrabbit]

"Antelope jackrabbit" is the popular name for the black-tailed hair.   The animal has been named "antelope" because of its unique ability   ability to flash its undercoat of white like a pronghorn antelope.  The reason for this behavior is not really known but it may be to warn other hares of some danger, to confuse a predator or attract a mate.  The antelope jackrabbit has amazingly long ears up to 8 inches long (1/3 of its body length).

Likes moonlit nights

Antelope jackrabbits are called el liebre, by Mexicans.  During the day, they  lie about under brush or sit in open places that they have cleared by nibbling away the plant life.   In the evening, on moonlit nights and in the very early morning they venture out to eat a variety of green plants including tender stems, leaves from bushes and grass.   During hot summer they clip 8 to10 inch sprigs off the end of the lower branches of creosote bushes.  Experts think this may be to sharpen their teeth.

Jackrabbits are not rabbits

Young jackrabbits are not rabbits but hares.  They are  born full-furred  with open eyes and active bodies  in contrast with cottontail rabbits which are born naked and immature and cannot take care of themselves for several days.   Hares are also born on the ground while rabbits are usually born underground.   Jackrabbits have several litters a year.  Almost always one litter is born in April or May.  

Pays to Listen

The jackrabbit is a most secretive animal and screens himself in every possible way from view of predators.  If it senses any movement it immediately goes on the alert intently listening, then it speeds off.  They rely heavily on hearing more than any other sense to detect  a threat from birds of prey and carnivores.  Jackrabbits shift their ears to hear.

Important part of food chain

Drought has a marked effect on reducing populations of jackrabbits.  With fewer jackrabbits available,coyotes, hawks and bobcats then feed upon rodents, competing with snakes and other critters that normally  feed on rodents. Everybody suffers. 

The primary predators of the Antelope Jackrabbit are coyote, red-tail hawk, Harris hawk, rattlesnake, gopher snake and bull snakes (eat young jackrabbits).

 

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Friends of the Scenic Drive, Division of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association
Scottsdale, AZ 85255