Nevada Fish & Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Pygmy rabbit

(Brachylagus idahoensis)

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Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus: Brachylagus
Species: idahoensis
Length: 9.25 to 11.65 inches
Lifespan: 3-5 years
Feed: herbivorous grazers that eat mostly sagebrush
Habitat: areas of tall, dense sagebrush; portions of the following states: California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Washington
 

Official Status:

Endangered - Washington state only
 

Life History:

The Pygmy Rabbit breeding season is short compared to other rabbits. Young are raised in nests inside burrows. Pygmy rabbits appear to synchronize breeding in a given area. Breeding time is determined by female readiness, which seems to be influenced by photoperiod and the condition of local food plants. Average litter size is 6. There is a maximum of three litters in a breeding season. Pygmy rabbits are capable of reproduction in the year following their birth.

The lifespan of a Pygmy rabbit runs about 3-5 years. Pygmy rabbit lifespan is primarily limited by predation. Annual rate of adult mortality may be as high as 88%. Juvenile mortality can be 50% between birth and 5 weeks old.

 

Distribution and Habitat:

 

The pygmy rabbit historical range includes portions of the following states: California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Washington. On March 5, 2003, the Columbia Basin Distinct Population Segment of the pygmy rabbit was listed as endangered in the state of Washington.

Pygmy rabbits are typically found in areas of tall, dense sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) cover, and are highly dependent on sagebrush to provide both food and shelter throughout the year. Their diet in the winter consists of up to 99 percent sagebrush.

The pygmy rabbit is believed to be one of only two Leporids in Northern America that digs its own burrows. Pygmy rabbit burrows are typically found in relatively deep, loose soils of wind-borne or water-born origin. They occasionally make use of burrows abandoned by other species and as a result, may occur in areas of shallower or more compact soils that support sufficient shrub cover.

 

Threats:

 

Habitat loss and fragmentation caused by: conversion of sagebrush rangeland to agriculture; development, including oil and gas production; and wildfire frequency in some areas.

Common predators include weasels, coyote, badgers, bobcats, raptors, owls, ravens/crows, and foxes.

 

Actions / Current Information:

 

09/29/2010
  • News Release: Service Determines Pygmy Rabbit Does Not Warrant Protection Under The Endangered Species Act
     
  • 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List the Pygmy Rabbit as Endangered or Threatened (1 MB PDF)
     
  • Literature Cited: Pygmy Rabbit 12-month finding literature 8/31/2010
     
  • Q&A: Pygmy Rabbit 12-Month Finding
     
  • Map: Approximate Historical and Current Range of the Pygmy Rabbit 12-Month Finding
     
  • Image: Pygmy Rabbit
         
    01/08/2008
  • News Release: Pygmy Rabbit May Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act
     
  • Federal Register Notice: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Pygmy Rabbit(Brachylagus idahoensis) as Threatened or Endangered Public Comments can be posted at the following Web site: Regulations.gov
     
  • Q&A: Pygmy Rabbit 90-Day Finding
     
  • Map: The approximate range of the pygmy rabbit
         
    05/20/2005
  • News Release: Pygmy Rabbit 90-Day Finding
     
  • Pygmy Rabbit 90-Day Finding Q & A
     
  • Pygmy Rabbit 90-Day Finding
         
    More information available at: http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A0GG
    Last updated: April 16, 2014