NatureMapping Animal Facts

Pygmy Rabbit

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Pygmy Rabbit (Brachyiagus idahoensis)
In Washington, known as the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit
Species Code: SYID

Description: It is small and slate gray with a pinkish tinge in the winter but turns a brownish color in the summer. The tail is nearly hidden. It's ears are small for a rabbit. There are whitish spots on the sides of its nostrils. Females are slightly larger than males.

Length: Can grow up to 11 inches long.

Weight: Can weigh up to 16 ounces (1lb).

pygmy rabbit photo

Range / Habitat: Lives in southwestern Montana; northeastern California; southern Idaho; central and northern parts of Nevada; central and eastern parts of Oregon; northwest Utah; and southeastern Washington.

The Pygmy Rabbit is typically found in areas of tall, dense sagebrush cover. They are highly dependent on sagebrush to provide both food and shelter throughout the year.

Lives in burrows that are among clumps of tall sagebrush in cooler deserts of the Great Basin.

Signs that they have been or are present: Their burrows have 3 or more entrances with 3 inch openings. There may be scattered quantities of tiny, round fecal pellets slightly more than 1/4 inch in diameter.

Diet: Sagebrush makes up 99% of their diet in winter, while grass makes up 30-40% of their diet in the summer time.

Reproduction: Mate in spring and summer. The litter is born between June and July. There are usually 4-8 young per litter that are born after a 27-30 day gestation period.

Conservation: The pygmy rabbit was state listed as a threatened species in Washington in 1990 because of declines in population size and distribution due to habitat loss. It was reclassified to endangered status in 1993. In March 2003, the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit was federally listed as an endangered species.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, less than 30 Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits were believed to remain in the wild in 2003.

A captive breeding program was initiated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2001. Goals of the program are to maintain the genetic diversity of Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, and to provide animals for release and recovery in the state. The captive breeding program is a cooperative project involving partnerships with Washington State University, the Oregon Zoo, and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park where captive breeding occurs. (source: WDFW)

Did you know?

  • The Pygmy Rabbit is the smallest rabbit in the United States.
  • Pygmy Rabbits are dependent upon sagebrush for winter food.
  • They are the only rabbits in the United States that dig their own burrows.

Pygmy Rabbit Silhouette

More Information

Captive breeding program offers hope for country's smallest native rabbit - Fish & Wildlife Science

Wildlife At Risk: Pygmy Rabbit - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo: United States Bureau of Land Management

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