- Average life span in the wild:
- 1 to 5 years
- 2 ft (61 cm)
- 3 to 9 lbs (1.4 to 4 kg)
- Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man
Please add a "relative" entry to your dictionary.
Jackrabbits are actually hares, not rabbits. Hares are larger than rabbits, and they typically have taller hind legs and longer ears. Jackrabbits were named for their ears, which initially caused some people to refer to them as "jackass rabbits." The writer Mark Twain brought this name to fame by using it in his book of western adventure, Roughing It. The name was later shortened to jackrabbit.
There are five species of jackrabbits, all found in central and western North America. They are speedy animals capable of reaching 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour, and their powerful hind legs can propel them on leaps of more than ten feet (three meters). They use these leaps and a zigzag running style to evade their many predators.
Black-tailed jackrabbits are common in American deserts, scrublands, and other open spaces, including farms. They can consume very large quantities of grasses and plants—including desert species such as sagebrush and cacti.
White-tailed jackrabbits are another common species. They frequent North America's plains and farmlands, though they also inhabit wooded areas. They are prolific eaters and can consume over a pound (0.5 kilograms) of grasses, shrubs, or bark each day.
The jackrabbit's breeding prowess is well known. Females can give birth to several litters a year, each with one to six young. The young mature quickly and require little maternal care.
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.
The loss of animal species is irreversible and potentially catastrophic, not to mention heartrendingly sad. Where do we stand? Face the facts with this quiz.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the oldest species of seal on the planet. But their tenure in paradise is perilously close to its end; only about 1,100 seals remain in the wild.
They’re rarely seen. Even less often photographed. Bryde’s whales rocket through Pacific shallows to gorge on fish. Dive in for more.
Find out what National Geographic Society is doing to save animals all over the world, and learn what you can do to help.