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Wildlife

Pikas and Jackrabbits in Utah

The fertile grasslands, woodsy forests and lots of streams in Utah allow the jackrabbit, pika and cottontail to flourish.

Zion and the nearby region has created a good home for jackrabbits, pikas and cottontails. The fertile grasslands, woodsy forests and lots of streams allow these animals to flourish. The pika is a rabbits cousin, only much smaller and with round — not elongated — over sized ears. The American pika lives in the high mountains of the western U.S. and Canada. Preferring to live above the tree line, it hides in rocky slopes. Look for it during the daytime throughout the year, accompanied by either of its two litters of up to five young, during the summer.

In contrast, the white-tailed jackrabbit is a hare, the fastest of all rabbits. With even larger ears than other rabbits, its long front legs and strong back legs allow it to leap quickly when running from predators. In winter, the jackrabbit can turn entirely white to blend in with the snow. At 26 inches in length and nine pounds, it is also the largest hare. Some jackrabbits can run up to 55 mph. They also use their strong back legs to thump the ground to warn others of danger. Look for the jackrabbit in mountains, foothills and valleys in Northern Utah, but primarily in open areas of the higher mountains in Southern Utah.

The black-tailed jackrabbit looks much like the white-tailed jackrabbit except it is slightly smaller and its tail is black instead of white. About two inches smaller and two pounds lighter, it is still a large rabbit with ears up to seven-inches long. The black-tailed jackrabbit also doesn’t turn color in the winter, remaining its grayish brown with black accents throughout the year. He can commonly be found in brushlands, valleys and deserts throughout the southwest and sustains himself on fords, grasses and gardens, much like Peter Rabbit.

The desert cottontail grows to about 16-inches in length with four-inch ears and weighs roughly three pounds. Also grayish brown with a light underbelly, it lives in desert areas and the lower slopes of mountains, particularly along dry washes and stream beds. His cousin, the mountain cottontail, takes the higher elevations and is bout the same size and color. The bunny family is a favorite food for all predators, including man.