Rabbits of Saguaro National Park
Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)
The antelope jackrabbit is the largest rabbit in the western hemisphere. They can be distinguished from black-tailed jackrabbits by their larger size, lack of black ear tips, and a broad white patch on their flanks and hindquarters. The antelope jackrabbit is named so because they dodge predators in a manner similar to that of antelope. They are relatively uncommon at Saguaro National Park but can be found in large, sandy washes. Antelope jackrabbits rarely have water available, so they get their moisture from cacti and other plants. They conserve water by resting in the shade during the hottest hours of the day, restricting activities to the cooler times.
NPS photo courtesy of Big Bend National Park
Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)
Black -tailed jackrabbits are relatively common desert animals at Saguaro National Park. This jackrabbit is recognizable by its large size and black-tipped tail and ears. They prefer open desert areas, but they cannot tolerate extreme dry conditions endured by the antelope jackrabbit. When predators approach, the black-tailed jackrabbit freezes, then suddenly dashes away, leaping in large bounds at speeds of up to 35 miles/hour (56 km/hr)!
NPS photo courtesy of White Sands National Monument
Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii)
Visitors to Saguaro National Park are probably more likely to see a desert cottontail than any other mammal. Because of high reproductive rates, desert cottontails are abundant, despite being an important prey item for everything from rattlesnakes to bobcats to hawks! Female desert cottontails can breed at a young age (3 months) and can have multiple litters in a year.