Pygmy Rabbit

Pygmy Rabbit

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Brachylagus idahoensis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
3-5 yrs
WEIGHT
375-500 g
LENGTH
23.5-29.5 cm

The Pygmy rabbit is a small rabbit species native to the United States. It is distinguishable from other rabbits and hares by its small size, short ears, gray color, small hind legs, and lack of white fuzzy fur. Female Pygmy rabbits are slightly larger than males.

Cr

Crepuscular

Di

Diurnal

He

Herbivore

Fo

Folivore

Li

Lignivore

Te

Terrestrial

Ju

Jumping

Al

Altricial

Bu

Burrowing

Gr

Grazing

Fo

Fossorial

Vi

Viviparous

So

Social

Do

Dominance hierarchy

No

Not a migrant

P

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Pygmy rabbits are found in southwestern Montana from the extreme southwest corner near the Idaho border north to Dillon and Bannack in Beaverhead County. Distribution continues west to southern Idaho and southern Oregon and south to northern Utah, northern Nevada, and eastern California. Isolated populations occur in east-central Washington and Wyoming. Pygmy rabbits inhabit areas on deep soils with tall, dense sagebrush which they use for shelter and food. Extensive, well-used runways interlace the sage thickets and provide travel and escape routes. Dense stands of big sagebrush along streams, roads, and fencerows provide dispersal corridors for Pygmy rabbits.

Pygmy Rabbit habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Pygmy rabbits are social animals and don't hibernate. They may be active at any time of day; however, they are generally most active at dusk and dawn. During midday, they usually rest near or inside their burrows. Juveniles use burrows more than other age groups. When Pygmy rabbits can use sagebrush cover, burrow use is decreased. Their burrows are usually located on slopes at the base of sagebrush plants. Tunnels widen below the surface, forming chambers, and extend to a maximum depth of about 1 meter (3.3 ft). Burrows typically have 4 or 5 entrances but may have as few as 2 or as many as 10. In areas where the soil is shallow Pygmy rabbits live in holes among volcanic rocks, in stone walls, around abandoned buildings, and in burrows made by badgers and marmots. Pygmy rabbits typically move by scampering close to the ground and rarely leap. They communicate with each other using several types of vocalizations such as chuckles and squeals.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Pygmy rabbits are herbivores and their primary food is big sagebrush, especially in the winter. Grasses and forbs are usually eaten in summer.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
varies with location
PREGNANCY DURATION
27-30 days
BABY CARRYING
6 kittens
FEMALE NAME
doe
MALE NAME
buck
BABY NAME
kitten

The breeding season of Pygmy rabbits is very short and varies with location. In Idaho, it lasts from March through May; in Utah, from February through March. The gestation period lasts from 27 to 30 days and females give birth to an average of 6 young per litter and a maximum of three litters are produced per year. Baby Pygmy rabbits are born blind and helpless and their growth rates are dependent on the date of birth. Young from early litters usually grow larger due to a longer developmental period prior to their first winter. Pygmy rabbits become reproductively mature and start to breed when they are about 1 year old.

Population

Population threats

The main threats to Pygmy rabbits include habitat loss, competition with heavy livestock grazing, severe weather, isolation of populations, road mortality, and predation.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Pygmy rabbit total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Pygmy rabbit is the world's smallest member of the family that includes rabbits and hares.
  • The Pygmy rabbit is the only native rabbit species in North America that digs its own burrows.
  • Pygmy rabbits are very careful and never venture farther than 60 feet (18 m) from their burrows.
  • Some areas inhabited by Pygmy rabbits are covered with several feet of snow for up to 2 or more months during the winter. During periods when the snow has covered most of the sagebrush, Pygmy rabbits tunnel beneath the snow to find food. Snow tunnels are approximately the same height and width as burrows. They are quite extensive and extend from one sagebrush to another. During the winter months, all movements of these tiny rabbits above ground are restricted to these tunnel systems.
  • Rabbits have a field of vision that encompasses nearly 360 degrees but with just a small blind spot at the bridge of the nose; this unique feature is due to the position of their eyes in the skulls.

References

1. Pygmy Rabbit on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_rabbit
2. Pygmy Rabbit on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/2963/45176206

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About