The rock ptarmigan, which are camouflaged quite well in the snowy winter world, plunge into the snow to roost.
When they need to move about, fluffy, white feathers, resembling snowshoes, cover their feet and make it easier for the birds to traverse the snow covering the ground.
They stay healthy in the winter because of a special bacterium that helps them digest their low calorie woody diet.
Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus)
Jackrabbits are actually members of the hare family due to the fact that they are leaner and lankier looking than the cottontail rabbit with characteristic oversized legs and ears. The mature jackrabbit ranges from 18 to 25 inches long. Both sexes look alike with their dark buff colored fur. The fur is mottled with black coloration and a black stripe running from the rump to the top of the tail with a brownish color under the tail. The only notable difference between the two sexes is that the female is larger. Black-tailed jackrabbits differ from white-tailed ones because of the darker buff coloration on the tail.
Average Weight Range
Mature black-tailed jackrabbits range in weight from four to eight pounds.
Breeding season depends on location, generally running from December to September. Females can produce three or four litters annually with an average of three to four young (leverets) per litter. The gestation period for the jackrabbit is 41 to 47 days. The leverets are born fully furred with their eyes open. Females only nurse the offspring for two to three days and are not seen with their young after that time. The females do not make a formal nest; instead, they create a shallow depression in the ground, called a "form." The female is rarely seen in the form with the young; she will usually leave them in the form alone while she sits nearby watching for predators.
Little is known about the social behaviors of the jackrabbit. What has been discovered is that courtship involves prolonged chases of the female by the male. Sexually active males can be seen with their nose to the ground in search of a female. In the event the male comes across another male, fights do ensue, and some can be fierce. Rearing up on their hind legs, jackrabbits strike out at each other with their forefeet. During these fights males may bite each other, especially on the ears. If a female is encountered, she will sometimes lower her ears and turn to face her intruder. If the male continues his advancement, the female may jump out and strike him or jump straight into the air. While the female is in the air, the male will charge underneath her causing the female to turn and face him. This performance will generally lead to the courtship chase.
The jackrabbit is an herbivore. In the summer they eat mostly green plants and flowers that are high in water content, so they do not require much water. They will also eat sagebrush and cacti. In the winter they mainly eat shrubs. Jackrabbits are constantly eating and consume large quantities of food relative to their size. Fifteen jackrabbits eat as much food as a large grazing cow in one day.
The black-tailed jackrabbit is found in the southwestern United States into Mexico; east to Missouri; north into Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Nebraska; and west to California and Baja California.
Black-tailed jackrabbits prefer to inhabit areas of short grass rangeland as well as arid regions such as desert scrubland, prairies and dunes. They can also be found in brushlands and meadows. In California and other areas they frequent agricultural land and are considered to be pests of crops and fruit trees. The jackrabbit uses many types of vegetation including sagebrush-creosote bush, mesquite-snakeweed and juniper-big sagebrush.
Common Hunting Methods
Jackrabbits are hunted with a shotgun and birdshot, .22-caliber rifle or handgun. Hunters utilize the assistance of dogs which have been trained to locate and flush out the jackrabbit. Once the jackrabbit is on the run, the hunter has an opportunity to harvest the quarry.
The jackrabbit is constantly surveying its surroundings. With its long ears, the jackrabbit has a keen sense of hearing, so the hunter must remain as noiseless and motionless as possible. Jackrabbits have been used widely for food; however, their fur has also been used in the manufacture of felt and as the trimmings and linings for gloves and clothing.
Jackrabbits obtained their name from early settlers of the Southwest who, noting the animals extraordinarily long ears, dubbed it "jackass rabbit." This name was later shortened to jackrabbit.