The Antelope Jackrabbit is more of a hare than a rabbit. This breed is bigger than a rabbit and is one of the biggest hare breeds. It is one of the five jackrabbit species inhabiting different parts of North America.
The Antelope Jackrabbit is very ancient and is a descendant of the giant, prehistoric jackrabbit. They are also called Mexican jackrabbit, burro jack, and wandering jackrabbit.
They were called the Antelope Jackrabbits because they are very similar to an antelope. They are exceptionally excellent runners and they have that white underbelly you see in antelopes when they dash past you.
The Jackrabbit name is from their big ears which look like those of a donkey. They were called jackass rabbits before being shortened to jackrabbits.
Antelope Jackrabbit Size
An Antelope Jackrabbit weighs 10 pounds (4.5 kg), is 45-60 cm (18-24 inches) long, and has a 10 cm (4 inches) tail. They have big ears that are 8 inches long. Most of their weight is centered on their hips and hind legs.
Antelope Jackrabbit Diet
Diet is an important part of every animal’s survival. Animals in the wild know what is more nutritious for them and that is what they go for. The Antelope Jackrabbit is a herbivore.
They feed on leaves, fresh grass, succulent plants especially cactus and shrubs like mesquite and creosote. They can stand on their hind legs to reach high branches of plants like mesquite.
This jackrabbit species is adapted to living in hot areas and does not drink water directly. Instead, they get their water from plant stems like the cactus stems.
Antelope Jackrabbit Habitat
The Antelope Jackrabbit is found along the western coast of Mexico near the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. They occupy the southern part of Arizona, USA, in the Sonoran desert. They can also be found in the small island of Tiburon near Sonora in Mexico.
They’re only found in very hot and arid regions. They live in shrublands, grasslands, and hilly places. Bushes give them cover to hide in if they spot predators in the open.
They build their nests above the ground, unlike rabbits who burrow under the ground. When it is too hot, they build shelters to avoid the heat.
They hide under grass and weeds or sit under cactus plants and bushes. Here, they can camouflage from predators and have enough time to re-digest their food.
Antelope Jackrabbits eat their feces. While resting in safety, they have humble time to feed on the pellets and digest them again for more nutrients.
Mating Habits of this Jackrabbit
The Antelope Jackrabbit is a solitary animal and they prefer to live alone most of the time. They only interact with their species during breeding seasons. Mating takes place from late December to September which is almost all year long.
When they come together, fights are common and fierce among the males. They aggressively try to compete for the females in the group. They will kick with their hind legs and box with their front legs.
After mating, the does will be pregnant for 6 weeks. They can have 3-4 litters in a year. A litter has 1-5 kittens.
The babies are born well-developed and can even hop from birth. Unlike rabbits who are born blind and hairless, Antelope Jackrabbits are born with their eyes open and bodies full of hair.
The kittens are breastfed and weaned after a few days. They become independent and can take care of themselves from a young age.
Within two years, they are mature enough to begin mating, and their high populations are maintained. Their lifespan is 1-5 years.
Population of the Antelope Jackrabbit
The Antelope Jackrabbit breed does not have a known population estimate. However, their numbers are very stable, and they are listed as Least Concern (LC) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
They are very widespread in the regions they are found in and are not under any danger of extinction. The main threats to their habitats are humans.
Humans invade their natural habitat for housing purposes, recreational trails, livestock grazing, and building of water canals. The other threat is the growth of Lehmann lovegrass species which they cannot eat.
How Does the Antelope Jackrabbit Escape Predators?
The Antelope Jackrabbit is a prey animal. Their predators include rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, and cougars. To avoid becoming a predator’s meal, they have some helpful body adaptations.
They have big eyes, huge upright ears, and their belly is white in color. Their big ears can sense movements nearby. They will stand up straight if they hear something alarming.
Their big eyes are located high and back. This gives them a near 360° view that is essential to locate predators from every direction. When they see a predator, they run away very fast.
They do not run straight but instead hop in zigzags to lose the animal chasing them. They will also flash their white underbelly to confuse the predator.
What is an Antelope Jackrabbit Speed?
An Antelope Jackrabbit has long masculine legs that can run very fast. Running is their survival instinct to hide away from predators.
This jackrabbit can run as fast as 72km/h (44 miles per hour). They can also jump as high as 5 feet (1.5m) and as far as 22 feet (6.7m).
The Antelope Jackrabbit is a wild rabbit breed found in hot climatic areas. They are adapted to hot weather, and they have big identifiable ears. The ears have a large surface area which helps them to maintain warmth when it is cold and release excess heat when it is hot.
They are both crepuscular and nocturnal to avoid too much sun and predators. They are mostly active at dawn and dusk. Other times they are active at night. They use the cover of darkness to hide while searching for food.
The antelope rabbit is not kept as a pet and they are only found in certain regions. One can only watch and marvel at them from afar because they are wild and not domesticated.
However, it’s worth mentioning that there is a vast array of rabbit breeds found worldwide, each displaying its own distinct characteristics and adaptations. From the elusive Snowshoe Hare to the resilient Arctic Hare, the world of rabbits showcases remarkable diversity, encompassing over 50 recognized rabbit breeds.