Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blacktail Jackrabbit

The blacktail jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) is the common jackrabbit of the American west. The one below was at an elevation below 2,000 feet in the Colorado Desert of southeastern California.
It is found through most of California, including this one below, at over 12,000 feet on White Mountain.
It is also found in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and portions of other states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas and down into Mexico. It has a grayish-brown body, large black-tipped ears,
a black streak on top of the tail
and has reddish eyeshine (the one below found near Verbenia Avenue in the vicinity of Cabazon and Palm Springs).
They are found in open prairies and sparsely vegetated deserts. They can run 30 to 35 miles an hour
and are very difficult to get close to in the wild. The tail-end view tends to be the one that shows up most often on my camera.
I have seen a number of them recently in the Colorado Desert in southern Joshua Tree National Park. I actually had a pet jackrabbit as a young boy. I caught a young baby at Smith-Morehouse Reservoir outside of Oakley, Utah at a fathers and sons outing. I kept it for several weeks, but it never got tame. It got out inside our ranchouse in Oakley, Utah and was almost impossible to catch. I realized it was time to let it go. Several years ago I went with Nick Brown and Matt Carter down to Mata Ortiz in Mexico. While there, I purchased a wonderful standing jackrabbit pot,
one of my favorite decorations
in our living room.

On May 12, 2012, I was in the southeastern portion of Joshua Tree National Park near Eagle Mountain and saw about four blacktail jackrabbits. One in particular paused and allowed me to take some photos, an uncommon experience. 
I love their huge ears. 
I have to believe that their hearing is tremendous, although with such presumed good hearing, I don't understand why they allow humans to get so close if they can hear us coming from such a distance. 

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