Pygmy rabbit

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Pygmy rabbit

The pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) is a North American rabbit, and is one of only two rabbit species in America to dig its own burrow. The pygmy rabbit differs significantly from species within either the Lepus (hare) or Sylvilagus (cottontail) genera and is generally considered to be within the monotypic genus Brachylagus. One isolated population, the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Federal government, though the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the species as lower risk.

The pygmy rabbit is the world’s smallest leporid, with mean adult weights from 375 to about 500 grams (0.827 to about 1.102 lb), and a body length from 23.5 to 29.5 centimeters (9.3 to 11.6 in); females are slightly larger than males. The pygmy rabbit is distinguishable from other leporids by its small size, short ears, gray color, small hind legs, and lack of white fur on the tail.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Lagomorpha
  • Family: Leporidae
  • Genus: Brachylagus
  • Species: B. idahoensis
  • Binomial name: Brachylagus idahoensis


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.


The body size of Pygmy Rabbits is smaller than any other North American leporid. The hind legs are very short, and the hind feet comparatively broad and heavily haired. The ears are short, rounded and densely haired inside and out, and are edged with buff. Whiskers are black and white. The tail is small and inconspicuous, and buff on all surfaces.

The upper parts are buffy-gray, the nape and anterior surfaces of the legs are cinnamon-buff; by winter pelage becomes worn and appears silver-gray. On the skull the supraorbital processes are relatively long both anteriorly and posteriorly; auditory bullae are inflated. Molariform teeth are relatively small, with the first upper one possessing but a single reentrant angle. There are 28 teeth in the skull. Body measurements are: total length 232 to 305 millimeters, tail 15 to 24 millimeters, hind foot 66 to 76 millimeters, adult mass 246 to 458 grams.

Physical Description

Brachylagus idahoensis is the smallest rabbit species in North America and fit easily in the palm of a hand. They weigh between 246 to 462 grams, averaging 398 to 436 g. They are 23.5 to 29.5 cm long, with a tail length of 15 to 24 mm and hind foot length of 67 to 76 mm.

Their fur color varies from brown to dark grey with white around the margins of their short, round ears. Their ears and feet are densely covered in hair and they have a very short tail. Rabbits in general show some sexual size dimorphism, in that females are 1 to 10 percent larger than males.

Pygmy rabbit images

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