Wild Fact #326 – Is This The Easter Bunny? – Pygmy Rabbit

World's Smallest Rabbit | Pygmy Rabbit

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As you prepare for the Easter long weekend, I thought it would be fun to learn about the World’s Smallest Rabbit. Actually, it’s possible that the Easter Bunny is a Pygmy Rabbit. I don’t know for sure but if they are so small, they would be able to slip in and out of your house without being seen, right? This particular rabbit species has an isolated distribution range as they are only found throughout the Great Basin and intermountain area of Western United States (mainly found in Montana, Oregon and Idaho). As you can imagine, an animal with a limited distribution such as this is fighting to stay alive amidst the numerous human development activities occurring throughout their home range.

World’s Smallest Rabbit

So just how small is this Easter Bunny candidate? As mentioned, they are the smallest of all the rabbits and hares with an average length between 23.5 and 29.5 cm (9.3 – 11.6 inches). Yes, that is the size of a fully grown Pygmy Rabbit. Even more astonishing is the fact that they weight between 375 – 500 grams (0.83 – 1.1 lbs. You read that right, this particular rabbit typically weighs less than a pound, which means you won’t be getting much of a workout simply by lifting this cuddly bunny over and over again.

Worlds Smallest Rabbit - Pygmy Rabbit

Photo from Wikimedia

Just Like Playing in the Sandbox

The Pygmy Rabbit is different from the majority of their cousins as they are one of the only  rabbits found in the Americas that dig burrows (the other is the Volcano Rabbit found in Mexico). As a result of this desire to dig in the sand, this particular rabbit species seeks out a very specific habitat that generally includes areas with deep, loose soil. After all, who wants to try digging through bedrock, right? Similarly, their habitat requirements also include areas that have a tall, dense sagebrush to provide them with adequate cover. Unfortunately, their picky habitat requirements make it tough on their population as these areas are continuously being replaced with human development projects.

Against All Odds

The population of Pygmy Rabbits also suffered as a result of their incredibly slow and long breeding behaviour. Typically, rabbits will produce several clutches of brand new baby bunnies throughout the entire season. However, this particular species is only capable of producing cute and fluffy bunnies during a 2 month breeding window, which is typically in the spring season. With all of these odds stacked against the Pygmy Rabbit, their continued survival doesn’t necessarily look good but the American Government has implemented a few re-introduction programs for a variety of sub-species. With any luck, they will adapt and begin to flourish in the wild.

 

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