Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Antelope Jackrabbit

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Despite the name, the Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni) is actually a hare, though rabbits and hare all members of the family Leporidae, which shares the order Lagomorpha with the Pikas. Antelope Jackrabbits are found in Western Mexico and in Southern Arizona. They are nocturnal creatures that feed during dusk and down (making them crepuscular). Antelope Jackrabbits can be found in open grassland areas, both at low and hilly elevations. They have long legs for running and jumping, and long ears, which help to  reduce heat. They also have fur that works well to insulate and reflect.

Antelope Jackrabbits are so named because of their speed (up to 35mph/56kph) and because of an interesting behavior that they exhibit while running from danger. When being chased by a predator, the Jackrabbit will flash a white patch of hair on the rump and run in a zigzag pattern. This is done with hopes to confuse their pursuer. Antelope Jackrabbits have several predators in the wild, including coyotes, hawks, and snakes.

Antelope Jackrabbits are herbivores, and feed off of grasses, leaves, and even cacti. They do not actively drink, and instead get all of their water from their diet. Breeding season is actually year round, and males will "box" for potential mates. Females may give birth to up to four litters a year, and the young are precocial not long after birth. Males do not take care of the young.

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