Wildlife Portfolio of the Western National Parks
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THIS SPECIES OF JACK RABBIT has a large body, large ears, long hind legs, and tail black above. It has a total length of 23 inches; tail 4 inches.

The black-tailed jack rabbit is a conspicuous member of the wildlife at Lava Beds National Monument, particularly in the rocky and sandy areas along the boundaries of the monument where clumps of rabbitbrush afford it shelter during the heat of the day and, apparently, serve as a source of food when other forage is scant. It was here that I played hide-and-seek with one of these rabbits while I attempted to secure the photograph on the opposite page.

Unlike cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits or hares are born fully furred and with eyes open. The young leave their nest within a few days but they have so many enemies, such as hawks, coyotes, and owls, that many of them never reach the adult stage.

Ordinarily, this jack rabbit depends upon making its escape through fleetness of foot and it usually jumps from its daytime nest when an intruder is several yards distant. These daytime nests, known as "forms," consist of a long narrow depression scratched out under the protection of some bush or bunch of grass. When resting, the animal crouches motionless in this nest, and its gray sides and back blend so well with the surroundings that it is difficult for an enemy to see it.

The outstanding enemies of the jack rabbit are the golden eagle and the coyote. I once watched an eagle in pursuit of one of these animals which I had accidentally frightened from its daytime nest. The jack rabbit had started off at great speed when, suddenly, there was a hiss of wings and the eagle, like a thunderbolt out of the sky, shot after the rabbit. Just as the bird was about to strike its prey the animal dashed into a dense protecting bush. There it remained and the eagle was unable to frighten it out into the open again.


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Last Updated: 01-Jul-2010