Jack Rabbit

Jack Rabbit: Lepus timidus

Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Class: Mammalia; Order: Lagomorpha; Family: Leporidae; Genus: Lepus
species: (various) common: timidus

Description: Jackrabbits are actually hares, and are mammals in the leporids belonging to the Genus Lepus. They are in the same family as rabbits. The term “jackrabbit” comes from the book by Mark Twain describing a jackass rabbit because the long ears looked like a jackass donkey’s ears and was shortened to “jackrabbit”. They are similar in size to rabbits eating the same kind of diet being herbivorous. They are long eared, fast runners, living solitary or in pairs. There are five main species in the leporid with hare in their common names but are not true hares – these are (1) the hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), and four species as red rock haires (Pronolagus). Hares that are less than a year old are called leverets. They bear their babies in shallow depressions or flattened nests of grass rather than burrows like rabbits do. A group of hares is called a drove. Jackrabbits can run upwards of 64 kph or 40 mph able to leap up to 3 meters at a time. They are often shy and timid, but during the spring they chase one another competing for fertility even to where they seem to be “boxing” with one another striking one another with their paws. They don’t live in burrows or warrens like rabbits, but in simple nests above group and do not live in groups. Hares have long ears, black markings on their fur, jointed or kinetic skulls with 48 chromosomes while rabbits only have 44. The six species of jackrabbits are the (1) Antelope jackrabbit, (2) black tailed jackrabbit, (3) white-sided jackrabbit, (4) Tehuantepec jackrabit, (5) Black jackrabbit, (6) white-tailed jackrabbit.

Habitat: Native to Africa, Eurasia, North America and the Japanese archipelago.

Uses: Hunted or raised for food and meat. They have low fat content, but are a poor choice for survival food. They are commonly roasted or taken apart for breading and frying. A traditional German stew is made from marinated rabbit or hare meat called Hasenpfeffer. It’s blood is also used as a thickening agent for the sauce of the stew, mixed with wine and/or vinegar. The Lagos Stifado hare stew is made with pearl onions, vinegar, red wine, and cinnamon is a popular Greek dish. The French make jugged hare where they take the whole hare, dice and marinate it, cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water and is traditionally served with the hare’s blood and port wine. Jewish culture does not consider the hare to be kosher and therefore not eaten by observant Jews.

Mythology: In African folk tales the hare is a trickster spirit. In English folklore “as mad as a March hare” and in the legend of the White hare that goes out looking for prey at night or the spirit of a broken-hearted maiden who cannot rest and haunts her unfaithful lover. The Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican cultures see the hare in the paattern of dark patches in the moon. The Hare is sacred to Aphrodite and Eros because of its high sexual and fertile nature. Hares were presented as gifts of love. The Anglo-Saxon mythology of the Goddess Eostre – from which the Easter Bunny came from, is also based in love and fertility. Hares symbolize swiftness and timidity. The jackrabbit combined with a antelope creates the mythological creature known as the Jackalope.

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