Four small populations of Tehuantepec jackrabbits ( (Flux and Chapman, 1990)) can be found in southern Mexico, extending from Oaxaca to Chiapa. Their range has decreased significantly due to repeated interference by humans.
Tehuantepec jackrabbits, also known as 'tropical hares', are found in tropical habitats. They are restricted to woody grasslands, savannas and dunes along the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The scrub of these habitats offers them extra cover and camouflage when resting and foraging. (Cervantes, et al., 2008; Escalante, et al., 2004)
- Range elevation
- 500 to 1500 m
- 1640.42 to 4921.26 ft
Tehuantepec jackrabbits display features typical of other hares such as long ears and limbs with powerful hindquarters. Their coat is dusty gray-brown along their back, ears and throat, turning to a muted white on their underside. Two black stripes run from the base of their ears along their back, tapering to a point near their rump. Their coat changes moderately from spring to fall. Their total length spans from 56 to 61 cm, animals weighing greater than 2.5 kg are typically considered adults. Males are generally smaller than females. (Cervantes, 1993; Farias, 2004)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- Range mass
- 2500 (low) g
- 88.11 (low) oz
- Range length
- 56 to 61 cm
- 22.05 to 24.02 in
Tehuantepec jackrabbits are polygynous, meaning males mate with more than one female throughout the breeding season. In one particular study, a radio-marked male courted 6 different females and mated with 3 of them. (Rioja, et al., 2008)
- Mating System
During courtship, a male submissively approaches a female and smells her vulva, detecting whether the female is in estrus. A compatible pair engages in a complex courtship ritual before copulation. Other members of genus Lepus tend to have long breeding seasons, for Tehuantepec jackrabbits the breeding season becomes more active as the rainy season starts, from May to October. The rain means greater amounts of vegetation for energy. In 1981, a pregnant female was captured with two full grown embryos measuring 175 and 178 mm, respectively. (Flux and Chapman, 1990; Rioja, et al., 2008)
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Tehuantepec jackrabbits may mate several times throughout the breeding season.
- Breeding season
- Tehuantepec jackrabbits primarily breed from May to October.
Little is known regarding the parental care of Tehuantepec jackrabbits.
Very little information is currently available regarding the longevity of Tehuantepec jackrabbits specifically. In general, jackrabbits that survive to maturity typically live about 5 years; however, most individuals do not reach maturity. (Smith and Bell, 2006)
Occasionally the home ranges of Tehuantepec jackrabbits overlap, implying that this species is not territorial. Tehuantepec jackrabbits tend to live on their own, although pairs may co-exist for short periods of time. (Farías, et al., 2006)
- Range territory size
- 11300 to 1526100 m^2
The average range of this endangered species spans between 8 to 75 hectares. There is little variation in their range between sexes or seasons. (Farías, et al., 2006)
Communication and Perception
Little has been recorded on the specific behavior Tehuantepec jackrabbits. In general, members of genus Lepus communicate by producing scents below their chin and in their groin region. They also possess well-developed ears that offer an acute auditory ability. (Macdonald, 2001)
While the dietary requirements of Tehuantepec jackrabbits are not well-known, their diet has been studied to a minor degree. A large portion of their diet consists of grasses, particularly those from the family Poaceae. Still, their diet is relatively diverse. One study identified 18 different species of plants in their diet during the dry season. (Lorenzo, et al., 2011)
- Plant Foods
Top predators of Tehuantepec jackrabbits most likely include coyotes and gray foxes. According to one study, predation was the cause of death for 67% of adults and 94% of juveniles. Predation rates are higher in territories with sparser shrubs and less cover. Jackrabbits use camouflage provided by spotty cover to hide while foraging. (Cervantes, et al., 2008; Cervantes, 1993)
- Anti-predator Adaptations
As these jackrabbits feed on various grasses, they aid in seed dispersal and may also incidentally help pollinate various plants. Tehuantepec jackrabbits host the nematode Pelecitus meridionaleporinus, this species was recovered from the base of a captured male's ears. (Jiménez-Ruiz,, et al., 2004)
- Ecosystem Impact
- disperses seeds
- Pelecitus meridionaleporinus
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Despite their listing as an endangered species, poachers occasionally come from nearby cities to hunt Tehuantepec jackrabbits for consumption as well as for selling. (Carrillo-Reyes, et al., 2010; Farias, 2004)
- Positive Impacts
- body parts are source of valuable material
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Tehuantepec jackrabbits have little negative impact on human populations and are rarely seen.
The IUCN lists Tehuantepec jackrabbits as an endangered species, there are less than 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild, broken into three isolated populations. They suffer from human-induced effects on their environment such as fires, cattle grazing and development. They are also hunted for sport, although local authorities fine poachers caught in the act, the practice continues as their numbers decrease. (Carrillo-Reyes, et al., 2010; Cervantes, et al., 2008)
Sierra Warlin (author), Northern Michigan University, John Bruggink (editor), Northern Michigan University, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
uses sound to communicate
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
- desert or dunes
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species
having more than one female as a mate at one time
specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.
- scent marks
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Carrillo-Reyes, A., C. Lorenzo, E. Naranjo, M. Pando, T. Rioja. 2010. Home range dynamics of the Tehuantepec Jackrabbit in Oaxaca, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, Vol. 81: 143-151.
Cervantes, F., C. Lorenzo, V. Farias, J. Vargas. 2008. "http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/11790/0." (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed January 31, 2013 at
Cervantes, F. 1993. Mammalian Species, 423: 1-3. Accessed February 01, 2013 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3504288?origin=crossref&..
Escalante, T., G. Rodriguez, J. Morrone. 2004. The diversification of Nearctic mammals in the Mexican transition zone. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 83/3: 327-339. Accessed April 12, 2013 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2004.00386.x/full#t2.
Farias, V. 2004. "Spatio-Temporal Ecology and Habitat Selection of the Critically Endangered Tropical Hare (http://www.ibiologia.unam.mx/zoologia/mamiferos13.pdf.) in Oaxaca, Mexico" (On-line). Accessed April 12, 2013 at
Farías, V., T. Fuller, F. Cervantes, C. Lorenzo. 2006. Home Range and Social Behavior of the Endangered Tehuantepec Jackrabbit (Journal of Mammalogy, 87: 748-756. Accessed February 01, 2013 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/4094602.) in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Flux, J., J. Chapman. 1990. Rabbits, Hares and Pikas: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Switzerland: IUCN.
Jiménez-Ruiz,, A., S. Gardner, F. Cervantes, C. Lorenzo. 2004. A New Species of Pelecitus (Filarioidea: Onchocercidae) from the Endangered Tehuantepec Jackrabbit . The Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 90/No. 4: 803-807.
Lorenzo, C., A. Carrillo-Reyes, M. Gómez-Sánchez, A. Velázquez, E. Espinoza. 2011. Diet of the endangered Tehuantepec jackrabbit, Therya, 2: 67-76. Accessed January 31, 2013 at http://www.mastozoologiamexicana.org/therya/vol2num1/lorenzo.pdf..
Macdonald, D. 2001. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rioja, T., C. Lorenzo, E. Naranjo, L. Scott, A. Carrillo-Reyes. 2008. Polygynous Mating Behavior in the Endangered Tehuantepec Jackrabbit (Western North American Naturalist, 68: 343-349. Accessed January 31, 2013 at https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/ojs/index.php/wnan/article/viewFile/73/31.).
Smith, A., D. Bell. 2006. Rabbits and Hares. Pp. 696-711 in D MacDonald, S Norris, eds. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 1. London: The Brown Reference Group.