Do jackrabbits make nests like pet rabbits do?
No, jackrabbits do not keep their babies in a nest. Jackrabbits are actually a hare, not a rabbit. Confusing, I know. Hares (including jackrabbits) have precocial (“pre-KOH-shul”) babies, meaning they are born fully furred, with eyes open and able to hop around immediately. Pet rabbits have altricial (“al-TRISH-ul”) babies, meaning they are born completely naked, eyes and ears still closed, and they are not able to hop around immediately. Altricial baby bunnies, called kits, are safely kept in a warm nest with other babies.
Precocial baby hares — including jackrabbit babies, called leverets — have no scent on them when they are born. To keep them safe, their mom finds a good place to hide them. She leaves them by themselves all day and comes by to feed them at dusk and at dawn. This is the best strategy to keep them safe from predators. Foxes, coyotes, and even pet housecats are predators who hunt baby hares. The leverets stay as still as possible in their hiding spot. They are very well hidden because they blend in with their surroundings. Sometimes, a mother hare chooses someone’s yard as her babies’ hiding place. If you find a baby hare, leave it right there! Leverets are commonly kidnapped by well-meaning people who think the baby has lost its mother because it is all by itself. But by taking the hare out of its hiding spot, they are actually stealing the baby from its mom and putting it in danger. So, remember: IF YOU FIND A BABY HARE, LEAVE IT RIGHT THERE!
This fun fact originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine - Summer 2021.