See how comfortably the Black-tailed Jackrabbit sits. This is a hare supremely adapted to desert life. Enormous ears swivel, keyed for danger. He keeps a keen watch above for hunting owls and hawks. At the slightest breath of danger, the jackrabbit freezes, and his dun colors melt into the desert hues. If a predator advances, the jackrabbit sprints away, speeding up to 35 miles an hour. His elegant bounds carry him 15 feet in a single leap, he rockets right over boulders and shrubs.
Two species of jackrabbits, Black-tailed and Antelope, live in the Sonoran Desert. These mostly nocturnal hares browse at night and rest in the shade of desert trees during summer’s searing heat. Herbivores, they feed on grasses, forbs, mesquite leaves and beans, and cacti. Cacti supply needed moisture.
Despite constant danger from predators such as raptors, coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes, and human hunters, jackrabbits gather together to graze at night. Especially on moonlit nights, up to 25 jacks congregate to feed, finding safety in numbers. The animals may travel several miles to find forage. I love the image of a drove of jackrabbits loping along together, leaping and browsing, among plants now crisp and brown, the moon’s shadows alive with mystery.
Courtship between a jack and jill is a vigorous affair. The couple chases, bounds and leaps over each other. Just one or two babies (leverets) is born to a litter. As with all hares, the tiny newborns are fully furred, with eyes open, and are soon able to run with their parents. Youngsters stay on with their mothers for several months before becoming independent. Jackrabbits breed throughout the year.