White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)

white-tailed jackrabbit


  • Adults weigh about 3.4 kilograms (7.5 pounds).


  • Although commonly called a jack "rabbit", this lagomorph is a hare with longer ears and hind legs than those of Alberta‚Äôs resident rabbit, the mountain cottontail.
  • In summer, the coat is a grizzled brownish grey. In winter, the coat changes to pure white, except for black-tipped ears.
  • Occurs in the grassland, parkland and foothill natural regions of southern Alberta (Edmonton region and south).
Natural History


  • Favoured habitat includes sagebrush plains, pastures and grain fields bordered by thickets.


  • Summer diet includes a variety of green vegetation, including grasses, alfalfa and grains.
  • In winter, the jackrabbit browses on the buds, bark and branches of shrubs and small trees.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Mating occurs in April or May, with litters of about four young being born a month later.
  • Young are born in a simple nest on the ground in a thicket.
  • Does (adult females) may have one or two litters a year.
Conservation and Management


The white-tailed jackrabbit is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


White-tailed jackrabbits may be hunted, but not trapped, without a licence throughout the province, at all times of the year. See details in the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:


Page Information

Updated: May 13, 2010