|Body Type:||Full arch|
|Colors:||Brown, grey, white, and black mix|
|Best Suited For:||Enjoying from a distance|
|Similar Breeds:||Belgian Hare, Arctic Hare, Black Jackrabbit, White Jackrabbit|
When is a rabbit not a rabbit? When it’s a Jackrabbit, of course!
Actually, this is entirely true: The Jackrabbit family are more appropriately called hares, as many of their characteristics are distinctly different from the domesticated rabbits that we know and love.
In the case of the Antelope Jackrabbit, this wild North American breed is best known for its similarities in behavior and appearance to the fast-running antelope. Running, leaping, and dashing quickly across the dry desert regions of the United States, they’re often only identified by flashes of their white bellies seen from the corner of your eye.
In today’s article, we’ll be covering a bit about the history of this North American native, as well as looking at where and how they live their lives in the wild.
History and Origin of the Antelope Jackrabbit Breed
As a native of the American Southwest, Antelope Jackrabbits have likely been inhabitants of the land since before recorded human history. Said to be descended from a giant, prehistoric jackrabbit, they have called the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico home for many thousands of years.
Their name, however, is a relatively recent invention: Settlers in the American Southwest remarked on how much the hare’s ears resembled those of a donkey, or “jackass”. Eventually shortening this with the common name for animals of that size and shape, the moniker “jackrabbit” has stuck to this day.
Also known as the Mexican Jackrabbit, Wandering Jackrabbit, or Burro Jack, the Antelope Jackrabbit received its name because of a resemblance to the wild antelope. Both animals are spectacular runners and share a white underbelly that’s often only seen as they’re jumping away from you.
Rather large for a hare, the Antelope Jackrabbit can easily reach sizes larger than most domesticated rabbits. Their weight is centered in prominent musculature in their hips and hind legs, enabling them to run very quickly and jump surprisingly high.
With large, prominent, erect ears and a white underbelly, the Antelope Jackrabbit certainly resembles its namesake animal. These ears aren’t just for show, or for hearing predators – they also act as valuable heat exhausts in the sunny desert climate they call home.
Habitats and Habits
Found mostly along the Western coast of Mexico, and reaching into the Southwest United States, the Antelope Jackrabbit is only found in particularly hot, desert areas. They’re especially fond of grasslands and hills, where they can dash from bush to bush while avoiding predators.
This breed displays the crepuscular nature of domesticated rabbits – i.e., being most active at dawn and dusk – but has also been known to favor nighttime for its movements. This is just as likely to avoid the heat of the sun in their desert homes as it is to avoid predators.
Breeding and Young
Most Jackrabbits live primarily solitary lives, only choosing to spend time with others in their species during the breeding season. For Antelope Jackrabbits, this means that from the start of the new year through September, there will be fierce competition for breeding: Males will often kick and box one another to fight for access to females.
Reproducing quickly and developing quickly, Antelope Jackrabbits will be on their own within as little as 7 weeks from conception. A short two years later, these litters will be ready to make their own families – leading to the robust populations of Jackrabbits that these desert areas are known for.
Final Thoughts on the Antelope Jackrabbit Breed
These “rabbits that aren’t rabbits” have been with humankind since our earliest settlements in the deserts of Arizona and Mexico. With their powerfully muscular legs, robust and alert ears, and characteristic colorations, they’re certainly a sight to behold – if you can spot one as they run away, that is!
Thanks for reading today! We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about the Antelope Jackrabbit, and come away with a new appreciation of these fascinating animals.