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black-tailed jackrabbit

Fact File

Scientific Name: Lepus californicus

Classification: Mammalia, Order Lagomorpha, Family Leporidae

Identifying Characteristics

This species is introduced in Virginia. It is distinguished by its grayish brown fur, distinctly black tipped ears and a black stripe that runs from the top of the tail to the rump. Adults are between 475 and 600 mm long (including the tail) and weigh between 1.3 and 3.2 kg. As other hares do, this jack rabbit reingests fecal pellets (coprophagy). This species is primarily nocturnal, are good swimmers and can leap as far as 6 meters. In the western US, breeding occurs from December to September and a typical litter consists two to four young.


This species is the most widespread of the jackrabbit in the Unites States ranging throughout the western US and Mexico. This species was reportedly introduced into Loudon and Prince William Counties in the mid 1900’s by sportsmen. In 1960 to young jackrabbits from Kansas were released on Cobb Island (Northampton County) and since then, a breeding population has established itself there and in surrounding locales. Though in its natural habitat, this jackrabbit is found in the grasslands and deserts, it has adapted itself to living on the dunes and in beach grass in Virginia.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.