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Pest Information

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

  • Latin Name: Lepus californicus
  • Common Name: Black-tailed Jackrabbit
  • Other Names: American desert hare

Pest Details

Black-tailed Jackrabbit
Black-tailed Jackrabbit

Origin:

This is a native animal from Washington south throughout Baja California and much of Mexico, and east to Missouri. It’s range is expanding eastward and it has been introduced into the East Coast from Florida north to New Jersey.

Biology:

This is a well known and common hare in the western U.S. and south into Mexico. It can be found from sea level to as high as 10,000 feet and will remain active throughout the year. In warm regions it will breed throughout the year as well, but in cooler climates breeding is done in the spring where 2 litters are normal and up to 7 litters per year may occur in the southwest regions. The average number of young is 4 and the young are mobile within minutes of birth. In spring and summer they feed primarily on grasses and low herbaceous plants while in winter their diet may change to low shrubs and small trees. They are well known to carry various ectoparasites, such as fleas, lice, ticks, and mites. They also are popular food for many predators, including hawks, owls, and coyotes. They often will be disturbed by a person walking through tall grass or around shrubbery and the jackrabbit immediately takes off with an extremely fast run mixed with long leaps.

Identification:

This species is the third largest hare in North America, reaching a body length of about 2 feet. It has distinctive and very large ears and a relatively long tail that is black on top and light colored on the underside, with the black top continuing as a short stripe onto the back. When the ears are held erect they show a black ring around the perimeter and a lighter color on the inside where the light is able to shine through. The fur on the top and sides is a light color but peppered with darker spots. On the belly the fur is a tan color.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Due to their potential to damage crops, turf, and ornamental plantings there may be a need to manage their presence. Most state wildlife agencies list them as non-game animals that may be killed, but some states may label them as fur-bearing mammals and require specific permits to harm them. No toxins are labeled for rabbit control throughout the U.S., but some states may have specific allowances for them. Repellents can be applied to valuable plants or around small areas to be protected, but they offer very short term protection or repellency. Trapping generally is unsuccessful and even if trapped the animals could not be relocated legally in most states. The use of fencing, including electric fencing, is often the most effective long term solution. Permanent fences need to be placed at least 6 inches into the ground and extend at least 3 feet high.

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