Black-tailed Jack Rabbit 1Black-tailed Jack Rabbit (Lepus californicus)

The scientific name of the blacktail--californicus--is somewhat misleading since its range actually extends over a wide area of the desert southwest, including the Great Basin, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Equipped for alertness and fast travel with enormous ears and powerful hind legs, these desert hares are most often observed heading off at speed in the opposite direction, flashing their black tails and the distinctive black tips on their long ears.

Black-tailed jackrabbit 2Jackrabbits feed on grasses and tender greens in the summer and on bark and buds in the winter, if nothing else is available. Mesquite is an important food source year round. Unlike the young of the cottontail rabbit, which are born blind and hairless, young jack rabbits are born with fur and open eyes, so they are able to follow their mother soon after birth. These durable and prolific animals have sturdily withstood the onslaught of humans, which sometimes amounted to the killing of 35,000 of them during one drive in the bad old days.