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Today I’m featuring an Antelope Jackrabbit that my friend Ned Harris and I encountered the other day while driving on a rural dirt road.
This animal was unusually cooperative, sitting calmly by the roadside for several minutes as we photographed it. That’s atypical for jackrabbits. Usually they run (and they can run with blazing speed) as humans approach. I’m not sure why this individual was so calm. It has an old and nearly healed head wound, possibly caused by a predator such as a bobcat, a coyote, or a Harris’ Hawk. But, the animal looked to be in good health otherwise and was in no way incapacitated.
There are three jackrabbit species in the United States. These animals are universally inhabitants of open country. They populate the plains and deserts of the West. The two jackrabbit species living in Arizona are the Antelope and Black-tailed Jackrabbit (the third American species, the White-tailed Jackrabbit, is not resident in Arizona). The Antelope Jackrabbit is a true desert-dwelling species, native only to southern Arizona and western Mexico, whereas the Black-tailed Jackrabbit has a broader range and is an inhabitant mostly of grasslands. However, their ranges overlap. Ned and I confirmed that, because we spotted a Black-tailed Jackrabbit just a couple of miles from where we saw the Antelope Jackrabbit.
Antelope Jackrabbits are easy to identify by their orange-to-buff colored necks and chests. Physically, they are the largest of jackrabbits. They can be quite large, weighing up to nine pounds.
Jackrabbits are not really rabbits. They are classified as hares. Hares and rabbits obviously are related but there are differences. Hares tend to be larger than rabbits and have longer legs. Hares can run much faster than rabbits can. Both rabbits and hares breed prolifically, but there’s a difference. Rabbits’ offspring are helpless at birth and must mature under their mothers’ care before becoming independent. Hares are born essentially good to go.
Image made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f7.1 @ 1/2000.