Rabbits and Hares (Order: Lagomorpha)

Hares and Rabbits (Leporidae Family)Desert Cottontail; Photo courtesy of Brent Miller © 2005 Brent Miller

As many as three species of leporids may occur at Quail Ridge. Most visible is the black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), the common jackrabbit of much of temperate California. Jackrabbits have a grayish brown pelage and a black stripe on the top of the tail; the long ears are also tipped with black. Jackrabbits occur in open habitats, such as grasslands, and can frequently be seen running down the roads at Quail Ridge at night. Two species of cottontails also may occur at Quail Ridge. Cottontails are readily distinguished from jackrabbits by their smaller size and relatively shorter hindlimbs; additionally, young cottontails are born blind and helpless (altricial), whereas hares and jackrabbits are born in a more advanced (precocial) state. The Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) – also called Audubon’s cottontail – is a relatively large cottontail with a mixed black and brown dorsum. The ears are large, sparsely furred, and dark at the tip, and the tail is black above and white (entirely) below (when moving it often is the underside of the tail that is most visible). Desert cottontails occur in woodlands and brushy areas, but likely are uncommon at Quail Ridge. Likely more common here are brush rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani), which are readily distinguished by being smaller (600-800 g vs. 900-1200 g; 21-28 ounces vs. 32-42 ounces), having ears not dark at the tips, and the hairs on the underside of the tail are white with gray bases. Brush rabbits prefer dense vegetation and seldom stray far from cover.

Species Accounts

Mammals Page

Photo Credits: Title, Mule Deer (Mike Benard), Desert Cottontail (Brent Miller). For more pictures see: http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/fauna/


This page last updated: June 24, 2005  

Contact: Dr. Virginia Boucher
John Muir Institute of the Environment
109 The Barn, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
Phone: 530-752-6949; email: vlboucher@ucdavis.edu

Site designed and maintained by Shane Waddell
Website Technical Questions: smwaddell@ucdavis.edu