Winter Mammals of Iowa: White-Tailed Jackrabbit

The white-tailed jackrabbit can commonly be spotted in western and northern Iowa. It is the largest member of the rabbit and hare family. It weighs in the range of six to ten pounds. White-tailed jackrabbits have an interesting adaptation when it comes to the different seasons. Their fur can be a different color depending on the season. This helps to protect them against predators. During the summer and spring seasons, white-tailed jackrabbits have a brown/gray fur color. This helps them to camouflage with the dirt and rocks. White-tailed jackrabbits shed their brown/gray fur and will grow a thick white coat for the winter. This thick coat provides warmth and camouflage. Not every part of the white-tailed jackrabbit will change color throughout the year. The tips of their large ears will always stay black no matter the season.

They have large feet that allow for them to travel easily over the snow without sinking in. They do not usually put on any extra fat for winter because that would slow them down and they would sink into the snow more easily. The white-tailed jackrabbit has the ability to leap ten feet at a time at speeds up to 40 miles per hour! White-tailed jackrabbits are herbivores. They eat plants and seeds during the winter. They like to seek out high-protein foods and will even eat their own droppings as a source of protein. White-tailed jackrabbits are solitary animals, except for when it is breeding season. They are also nocturnal. They will rest during the day under vegetation. They are out and about during the night and will use their excellent vision and hearing to navigate. White-tailed jackrabbits also have the ability to sense vibrations using their whiskers.

Want to know a fun fact about the white-tailed jackrabbit? They actually aren’t a rabbit, but a hare! The difference between a rabbit and a hare is that baby hares are born with fur and their eyes are open. Rabbit babies are born blind and hairless. The white-tailed jackrabbit truly is quite an interesting winter mammal!