San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Black-tailed Hare, Lepus californicus Lepus californicus
Black-tailed Hare

Family: Leporidae (Rabbits and Hares)


The black-tailed jackrabbit is usually gray to light brown in color. It is most active at night when temperatures are low. It controls its body heat by regulating blood flow to its large ears. It is a herbivore whose natural enemies include foxes, coyotes, eagles, bobcats, great horned owls, hawks, and snakes.

Black-tailed jackrabbits range in length from eighteen to twenty-five inches with the female generally larger than the male. They weigh between six and eight pounds. Black-tailed jackrabbits can reach speeds up to thirty-five miles per hour and can leap up to twenty feet.

Range and Habitat

The black-tailed jackrabbit lives in rangelands throughout the central and western United States. It can be found throughout California up to elevation above 12,000 feet in the highest mountains. It is the most common hare in California.

Natural History

The black-tailed hare lives 5-6 years. Its mating season is year-round if the quantity and quality of its food are adequate. The female's gestation period is thirty days; her litter averages between three and four young. She can bear more than one litter per year.

Conservation Status

The local subspecies of the black-tailed jackrabbit is considered a species of special concern by the California Department of Fish and Game.

Text by Connie Gatlin
Photo credit: © 2001 Alison M. Sheehey

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