Those ears serve this Black-tailed Jackrabbit well. A jack will usually hear you coming long before you see him. And he can regulate blood flow in these ears to adjust for external temperatures.
The Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) — any jackrabbit — is actually a hare, not a rabbit.
This particular jackrabbit wasn’t keen on my presence. What appears as “calm” is anything but. It’s a defense mechanism. So, although I could have waited for his moment in the sun, I opted to snap this quick shot and leave him to his camouflage. A second hare had scrambled away the instant I accidentally came upon the two in a Berkeley meadow.
The second photo below was captured on a different day, different jackrabbit.
What I find most endearing about jacks is their soulful expression — the ears and eyes so huge as to suggest a wonderment. I doubt that ‘wonderment’ is what a jackrabbit feels. If a hare could talk I imagine ‘cynical’ would be its disposition, given how often the poor thing has to run for its survival. Any jackrabbit that survives the onslaught of predators — human and other — is probably a jaded old soul.
This photo is obviously compromised by our friend’s shady stance. If you’d like to see a more comprehensive database, check out the jackrabbit images at CalPhotos — one of my favorite online references for California flora and fauna.
Hares versus Rabbits
Just a few qualities that distinguish hares from rabbits:
- The ears. Long, jackrabbit ears.
- Hare babies are born with fur and eyes open (precocial), whereas rabbit babies are born hairless and without sight.
- Hares are larger and often quickr than rabbits.
- Hares have more pronounced hind legs.
- Hares have not been domesticated like rabbits have.
- Hares build nests on the ground while rabbits give birth in underground burrows.