Pygmy Rabbit
The Smallest Rabbit

The Pygmy rabbit is a species native to North America. It is one of only two species of rabbits in North America that digs its own burrow. It is significantly different from other North American species like cottontails and hares.

The Pygmy is considered an endangered species in the Columbia Basin in the Pacific Northwest, although that is because the population there is so isolated from others that it is evolving into a very different subspecies.

The Pygmy is the world's smallest rabbit. Adults weigh between 13 ounces and 1 pound. It has a gray coat, very short ears and unlike most wild rabbits, has no white fur on their tail. They live in groups. Litters in the group are raised around the same time, with an average litter size of 6. These rabbits can produce up to 3 litters within one breeding season if the conditions are right.

Most Pygmys live between 3 to 5 years. Predators are their biggest threat. Coyotes, weasels, bobcats, badgers, owls, hawks, foxes and crows are the most common predators.

They live in areas of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. They prefer areas dense with sagebrush, which they rely on for both food and shelter. Other plants they may feed upon include prickly phlox, gray horsebrush, rabbitbrush, spike wheatgrass, bluegrass, reedgrass, yarrow, milkvetch, balsamroot, lupine and other plants from that region.

During snowy winters, they dig under the snow to find food. They can create an entire tunnel system ranging from one sagebrush to the next. They do not go above the snow in winter. Even in summer, these rabbits seem loathe to cross open areas.

Major threats to the species include habitat loss and fragmentation by loss of sagebrush range-land to development and agriculture. Wildfire also plays a part in some areas.

There is not a lot known about the Pygmy rabbit. Some researchers report that they don't venture further than 60 feet from their burrows while others have observed these rabbits up to 328 feet away from their homes.

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