Species spotlight: Pygmy Rabbit
The pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) is the smallest rabbit in North America, weighing in at less than 1 pound.  Found in the sagebrush steppe habitat of southwestern Wyoming, this rabbit relies on sagebrush for up to 99% of its diet in winter and up to 50% of its diet in summer.

The pygmy rabbit is the only North American rabbit that digs burrows, which provide protection from predators and the elements. They can be distinguished from cottontails and jackrabbits by their:

1) small size,
2) short, round, and densely furred ears, and
3) small tail with buff-colored underside (unlike the cottontails bright white).

This photo shows jackrabbit, cottontail, and pygmy rabbit scat in order of their decreasing size, another distinguishing characteristic. 

Baby pygmy rabbits are called kits, and females give birth to an average of 6 kits per litter, and produce 1-3 litters per year. Although that sounds like a lot of offspring, its much lower than many other rabbit species (for example, the mountain cottontail can produce 4-5 litters per year of 4-6 kits per litter). 

By Anika Mahoney, Nongame Biologist  with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Photos: Top--Ken Hickman, Embedded--David Moskowitz, davidmoskowitz.net.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department - 307-777-4600

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