The jack rabbit, which is not a rabbit at all but a hare, was brought
into North America from Germany by a farmer living south of Galt
now part of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in 1912. His hares escaped
from the farm, and by 1912, the European hare or jackrabbit was to
be found all over Southern Ontario, New York State and New England.
People are lucky that there are natural enemies for the jack rabbit
and that it has not caused more damage to farm crops. It has not
caused other native animals to die out either.
The jack rabbit is a large hare about 64 to 70 cm long, which weighs
2.7 to 5.4 kg. It sheds its yellowish to gray-brown hair or pelage
twice a year, but does not turn white during winter. The European
hare lives alone except during the breeding season in late winter.
After a gestation period of 30 to 42 days, three to five young called
'leverets' are born.
During the summer, the jack rabbit eats grasses, herbs (soft-stemmed
plants) and some field crops. During winter it feeds on twigs, buds,
and the bark of shrubs and small trees. It likes to live in open
areas near woodlots and hedgerows.
For short spurts, the jack rabbit or European hare can run on powerful
legs 15 to 18 cm long, at speeds of up to 48 km per hour. It can
also hear very well with its nine to ten cm long ears. The enemies
of the jack rabbit include hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, and bobcats.
The birds of prey hunt the jack rabbit more when it is younger and
smaller. It is a favorite game animal for hunters because of its
size and speed. The name 'jack rabbit' probably came from its long
ears that reminded farmers of the big ears of a jackass or donkey.