Are South Dakota Jackrabbits Really Rabbits?
One of the signature animals in the state of South Dakota is the jackrabbit. You can occasionally see them on the east river side of the state. However, you are more likely to find jackrabbits in the Badlands or any town located on the west river side. But then again, there are a bunch of jackrabbits in Brookings (Haha, just kidding of course).
Since jackrabbits are certainly a staple for the state, I started thinking about the animal itself. Like why are they called "jackrabbits?" Further into this thought, I wondered if jackrabbits are even rabbits?
The simple answer to this question is no. Jackrabbits are actually not considered rabbits. They are technically hares.
According to the National Park Service, you can tell a jackrabbit from a rabbit mainly by the ears. They have black tips at the top. Plus, jackrabbits live predominantly in wide, open spaces.
Hares live in open areas and rely on running in a zigzag pattern to escape their predators. Hares are also precocial, meaning they are born with hair and with their eyes open. They can run and hop shortly after birth. Rabbits, on the other hand, move slower, dig burrows, and scamper into their homes when threatened. Rabbits are altricial, or born hairless, blind, and helpless. The desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) is the common rabbit of Big Bend.
Believe it or not, jackrabbits are also nocturnal animals. They are most active at night and they love being surrounded by grassland habitats. South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks also indicates the color of their fur can change depending on the season.
So why are they called jackrabbits? My guess is because they hop shortly after they are born and do run really fast. They are just quicker than the average rabbit.
So in summary, jackrabbits are hares and not rabbits. Hares...not rabbits.
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