Adaptable

Black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus) will eat almost any available green plant. Generally, jackrabbits eat more grasses and forbs (non-grass herbaceous flowering plants)  in the spring and summer while shrubs form the bulk of their winter diet.

Recent heavy snows covered the ground, while daytime melt and bitter nights formed an icy cap over the snow. Although jackrabbits living away from the immediate area of our house could find non-deciduous shrubs, such as rabbitbush and sagebrush, to eat, close in, only deciduous trees and shrubs poked above the snow. There was nothing green available.

Being adaptable, these “house” jackrabbits survived the storms by eating the alfalfa in our hay barns. They would hop up to the hay bales and nibble away. Leonard and I also discovered evidence that the jackrabbits also enjoyed our domesticated trees and shrubs. The plum trees and lead plants took the worst of the damage as our jackrabbits gnawed the tender bark off of branches and chewed off tender shoots. (There were plenty of rabbit pellets to verify that jackrabbits were the culprits.) The photographs show the gnaw marks on plum branches and chewed lead plant shoots. Notice the slant cut on the lead plant twigs. This slant cut is characteristic of jackrabbits. A twig eaten by deer shows a more “pinched off” effect.

The plants will survive, as will the jackrabbits. We enjoy the jackrabbits and do not mind sharing our plants and hay.

The photographs were all taken on our property near Lookout CA (Modoc County).

Gallery | This entry was posted in Mammals, Shrubs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Adaptable

  1. Jenn says:

    Ha; so cute! 😄

  2. Jim Gordon says:

    A couple of loose wraps of 1″ chicken wire will protect those domestic young shrubs and trees. The pruning is the rent that we have to pay for encroaching on their turf.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s