Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The white-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus townsendii, is the largest of the hares, growing up to 26 inches and weighing up to nine pounds. In summer, this jackrabbit is a light brownish gray over the back and sides, lighter on the belly. The tail is completely white. In winter, the entire body is usually white, except the tips of the ears and top of the head which are grizzled gray or black. In some areas, it may not turn completely white.

This species inhabits mountains, foothills, and valley areas in northern Utah. It is restricted to higher mountain areas in southern Utah. It is generally found in open areas, even when found at high elevations.

The white-tailed jackrabbit eats forbs, grasses, and the bark and twigs of many shrubs and trees.

This species bares several litters of three to six young during warmer months of the year. The precocial young are scattered around to avoid attracting predators.

The white-tailed jackrabbit is frequently confused with the snowshoe hare because both species turn white during the winter. It is easily distinguished from the snowshoe by its much larger size and relatively long legs and long ears. Its more open habitat contrasts with the coniferous forest habitat of the snowshoe.


  • Text modified from: Rawley, E. V., W. J. Bailey, D. L. Mitchell, J. Roberson, and J. Leatham. 1996. Utah upland game. Publication number 63-12. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City.