Pygmy Rabbit   RABBIT
Pygmy Rabbit
Pygmy Rabbit
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Scientific Name:
Brachylagus idahoensis
Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-US FWS: November 30, 2001
Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
USA - Columbia Basin DPS

The pygmy rabbit is the smallest known rabbit in the world. Only one confirmed population exists today in the Columbia Basin of Washington. Pygmy rabbits are typically brown to slate gray in color, with short, white-margined ears and a small tail (with no white fur). Adults could easily fit into the palm of a hand, reaching only 9.84 to 11.4 inches long and weighing only 0.88 to 1.02 lbs. Females are larger than males. Most North American rabbit species are known to use burrows abandoned by other species, such as woodchucks, prairie dogs, and skunks, but the pygmy rabbit is able to create its own burrowing system, using deep, loose soil.

This species can be found in habitats with tall sagebrush, and they have also been known to occur in areas containing bitterbrush, horsebrush, and greasewood. Pygmy rabbits are herbivorous grazers, feeding mainly on sagebrush. In the summer months, they also feed on grass and new foliage. Little is known about the reproductive behavior of the species. Males may mate with several species in the territories that they dominate. Breeding may occur between February and May depending on the location. Females give birth to six young on average, and the gestation period may be from 27 to 30 days.

Threats to the pygmy rabbit species include habitat loss due to agricultural development, predation, and disease. This species depends heavily on sagebrush, which has disappeared throughout much of its historic range. And unfortunately, pygmy rabbits are an important food source for some bird and mammals species in the area. The Oregon Zoo has established a crossbreeding programming that attempts to preserve the genetic line of this species by breeding surviving females with the Idaho pygmy rabbit subspecies, but to date this program and similar breeding programs have been unsuccessful. All pygmy rabbits found in the state of Washington are legally protected.

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Copyright Notice: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pygmy rabbit".

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