Black jackrabbit

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Black jackrabbit
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus: Lepus
Species: L. insularis
Binomial name
Lepus insularis
W. Bryant, 1891
Black Jackrabbit area.png
Range of the black jackrabbit

The black jackrabbit (Lepus insularis) is a species of mammal in the family Leporidae. Endemic to Mexico, its only known location is Espiritu Santo Island in the Gulf of California. The IUCN has listed this species as "near threatened" because of its restricted range. This taxon is regarded by some authorities as being a subspecies of the black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), found on the mainland of Mexico.[2]


The black jackrabbit grows to a length of about 55 cm (22 in) including a tail of 9.5 cm (4 in). The top of the head, upper surface of the body and upper side of the tail are glossy black sheened with brown. The sides of the head, body and limbs are dark cinnamon or buffy-brown and the underparts and underside of the tail are usually some lighter shade of brown. The eyes are surrounded by a ring of grey and the inside of the ears is greyish-black and fringed with long grey hairs.[3]

Habitat and ecology[edit]

The black jackrabbit is endemic to the Island of Espiritu Santo just off the coast of Baja California in Mexico.[1] It is found on grassy and rocky slopes, plateaus, dunes and valley bottoms, typically on bare slopes and among grasses, herbs, shrubs and cacti.[1]

The black jackrabbit is very conspicuous as its black colouring stands out against the browns, greys and greens of its surroundings. It is closely related to the black-tailed jackrabbit on the Mexican mainland, but the latter species is exposed to terrestrial predators and does not display melanism. On the island, large predators are absent. The black jackrabbit shares its habitat with the Espíritu Santo antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus insularis), the spiny pocket mouse (Chaetodipus spinatus), the cactus mouse (Peromyscus eremicus), the desert woodrat (Neotoma lepida) and the ring-tailed cat (Bassariscus astutus). Also present are a number of species of lizards and snakes and two predatory birds, the northern crested caracara (Caracara cheriway) and the American kestrel (Falco sparverius).[3]


Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida are connected by an isthmus

Since the black jack-rabbit is only found on the island of Espiritu Santo, its total range covers only 95 square kilometres (37 sq mi), the area of the island.[1] However it is common over much of the island and the population appears to be stable. The chief threats it faces are from the introduction of non-native species and the disturbance of its habitat by humans and the IUCN has rated its conservation status as being "near threatened".[1] The island is uninhabited and is protected by the Government of Mexico as part of the Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna: Islas del Golfo de California.[4] It is a favoured eco-tourism destination and in 1995 was declared to be part of a Biosphere Reserve, Islas del Golfo de California, by UNESCO.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Romero Malpica, F. J. & Rangel Cordero, H. (2008). "Lepus insularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Hoffman, R. S.; Smith, A. T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ a b Thomas, Howard H.; Best, Troy L. (1994). "Lepus insularis". Mammalian Species 465 (2): 1–3. doi:10.2307/3504295. JSTOR 3504295. 
  4. ^ Áreas de Protección de Flora y Fauna - Islas del Golfo de California, Government of Mexico (Spanish)
  5. ^ UNESCO, Islas del Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO Biosphere Programme.