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The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

ORDER LAGOMORPHA:

HARES AND RABBITS

Mammals assigned to this Order superficially resemble rodents, but lagomorphs differ from rodents in several essential features. One of these is the peculiar tandem arrangement of the front (incisor) teeth, with a large tooth in front on each side and a small peglike tooth directly behind it. Also, the number of premolars is 2/2 or 3/2 (2/1 or 0/0 in rodents), so that the total number of teeth is 26 or 28 and never as few as the 16 to 22 found in rodents.

This group of mammals is largely diurnal or crepuscular in habit; the food is almost entirely vegetable matter — grasses, forbs, bark of trees and shrubs, and so forth. Because of their usually large size and food predilections, lagomorphs frequently come into conflict with grazing, agriculture, and forestry interests. No lagomorphs hibernate.

Family Leporidae (hares and rabbits)

Swamp Rabbit, Sylvilagus aquaticus
Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
Eastern Cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus
Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus


KEY TO THE HARES AND RABBITS OF TEXAS

1.
  • Length of ear from notch more than 100 mm; general color grayish above, white below; tail with black dorsal stripe: Lepus californicus (black-tailed jackrabbit).
  • Length of ear from notch less than 100 mm: 2
2.
  • Length of hind foot usually more than 100 mm; total length (tip of snout to tip of tail) in adults near 500 mm; pelage rather harsh for a rabbit: Sylvilagus aquaticus (swamp rabbit).
  • Length of hind foot usually less than 100 mm; total length of adults near 400 mm: 3
3.
  • Ear 65% to 85% as long as hind foot and usually more than 58 mm in length; hind foot usually less than 90 mm; bullae relative to length of skull large: Sylvilagus audubonii (desert cottontail).
  • Ear 50% to 60% as long as hind foot and usually less than 58 mm in length; hind foot usually near 90 mm; bullae relative to length of skull small: Sylvilagus floridanus (eastern cottontail).