Home Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History Home
Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

White-tailed Jack Rabbit

Capt. Clark, September 14, 1804--Shields killed a Hare like the mountain hare of Europe, waighing 6 1/4 pounds (altho pore) his head narrow, its ears large i,e. 6 Inches long & 3 Inches Wide one half of each White the other & out part a lead grey   from the toe of the hind foot to the toe of the for foot is 2 feet 11 Inches, the hith is 1 foot 1 Inch & 3/4, his tail long thick & white.

Capt. Clark, September 17, 1804--Capt. Lewis saw a hare & killed a Rattle snake in the village of B. [arking] Squarels [ed. prairie dogs]

Capt. Clark, September 20, 1804--I saw a Hare & believe he run into a hole in the Side of a hill,  he run up this hill which is Small & has several holes on the Side & I could not see him after,

Capt. Clark, September 24, 1804--we Saw one Hare, to day,

Capt. Clark, January 3, 1805--Some Snow to day, 8 men go to hunt the buffalow, killed a hare & wolf

Several specimens were sent back to President Jefferson from Fort Mandan.  Capt. Lewis lists the contents of the packages.

Capt. Lewis, April 3, 1805

Box No. 1.

...No. 99, The Skeliton of the white and Grey hare.

Box No. 2

... 1 white Hare Skin &c.

In a large Trunk

...2 Cased Skins of the white hare.

Capt. Clark, April 12, 1805--I killed a Hare changeing its colour   some parts retaining its long white fur & other parts assumeing the short grey,

Capt.Lewis, May 12, 1805--the wild hysop sage, fleshey leaf thorn, and some other herbs also grow in the plains and hills, particularly the arromatic herb on which the Antelope and large hare feed.

Capt. Lewis, May 26, 1805--Capt. Clark.....also saw in the course of his walk, some Elk several herds of the Big horn, and the large hare; the latter is common to every part of this open country.

Capt. Lewis, August 25, 1805--I observed considerable quantities of wild onions in the bottom lands of this cove.  I also saw several large hares and many of the cock of the plains.

Capt. Clark, August 26, 1805--Saw great numbers of the large Black grasshopper.  Some har[e]s which were verry wild, but few Birds, a number of ground Lizards, some fiew Pigions [ed. these would have been passenger pigeons]

Capt. Lewis, February 15, 1806--The quadrupeds of this country from the Rocky Mountains to the pacific Ocean are......hare, .......

Capt. Lewis, February 28, 1806--The hare on this side of the Rocky mountains is exclusively the inhabitant of the great Plains of Columbia, as they are of those of the Missouri East of these mountains.  they weigh from 7 to eleven pounds.  the measure of one which weighed ten lbs was as follows.  from the extremity of the hinder, to that of the fore feet when extended 3 F. length from nose to the extremity of the tail 2 F. 2.I.  hight when standing erect 1 F. 3 I.  girth of the body 1 F. 4 I.  length of tail 6 1/2 I.  length of ear 5 1/2 I.  width of do [ed. “ditto”, i.e. ear] 3 1/8 I.  from the hip to the extremity of toe of the hind foot 1 F. 4 1/4 I.  the eye is large and prominent.  the pupil is circular, of a deep sea green and occupys one third of the diameter of the eye, the iris is of a bright yellowish silver colour.  the ears are placed far back on the head and very near each other, they are flexable and the animal moves them with great ease and quickness, and can dilate and throw them forward or contract and fold them on his back at pleasure.  the fold of the front of the ear is of a redish brown colour, the inner folds or those which lie together when the ears are th[r]own back, and which occupy 2/3rds of the width of the ears are of pure white except the tips of the ears for about an inch.  the hinder folds or those which lie on the back are of a light grey.  the head, neck, back, sholders, sides, & outer part of the legs and thyes are of a lead coloured grey; the sides as they approach the belley become gradually more white.  the belley, brest, and inner part of the legs and thyes are white, with a slight shade of the lead colour.  the tail is round and bluntly pointed, covered with a fine soft white fur not quite as long as on other parts of the body.  the body is covered with a deep fine soft close fur.  the colours here discribed are those which the animal assumes from the middle of April to the middle of November, the ballance of the year they are of a pure white, except the black and redish brown of the ears which never changes.  a few redish brown spots are sometimes seen intermixed with the white, at this season, on their heads and upper part of the neck and sholders.  the body of this animal is smaller and longer in proportion to it’s hight than the rabbit.  when it runs it carrys it’s tail streight behind in the direction of it’s body.  they appear to run with more ease and bound with greater agility than any animal I ever saw.  they are extreemly fleet and never burrow or take she[l]ter in the ground when pursued.  it’s teeth are like those of the rabbit as is also it’s upper lip which is divided as high as the nose.  it’s food is grass, herbs, and in winter feeds much on the bark of several aromatic shrubs which grow in the plains and the young willow along the rivers and other watercourses.  I have measured the leaps of this animal and find them commonly from 18 to 21 feet.  they are generally found seperate, and never seen to asscociate in any number or more than two or three. 

Capt. Clark, February 28, 1806--The Hare on this side of the Rocky mountains is exclusively the inhabitents of the Great Plains of Columbia, as they are of those of the Missouri East of the Mountains.  they weigh from 7 to 12 pounds.  the measure of one which weighed 10 pounds, was as follows.  from the extremity of the hinder, to that of the fore feet when extended 3 Feet.  length from nose to the extremity of the tail 2 feet, 2 inches.  Hight when standing erect 1 foot, 3 inches.  Girth of the body 1 foot, 4 inches.  length of tail 6 1/2 inches.  length of ear 5 1/2  inches.  width of ear 3 inches and 1/8.  from the hip to the extremity of toe of the hind foot 1 foot, 4 1/4 inches.  the eye is large and prominent.  the pupil is circular, of a deep sea green and occupies one third of the diamiter of the eye, the iris is of a bright yellowish silver colour.  The ears are placed far back on the head and very near each other, they are flexable and the animal moves them with great ease and quickness and can dilate and throw them forward, or contract and fold them on his back at pleasure.  the fold of the front of the ear is of a redish brown colour, the inner folds are those which lie together when the ears are thrown back, and which occupy 2/3ds of the width of the ears of a pure white except the tips of the ears for about an inch.  the hinder folds or those which lie on the back are of a light grey;  the sides as they approach the belly become gradually more white, the belly brest, and inner part of the legs and thyes are white, with a slight shade of a lead colour.  the Head, neck, back, sholders, sides, outer part of the legs and thyes are of a Lead coloured grey.  the tail is bluntly pointed and round covered with a fine soft white fur not quite as long as on other parts of the body.  the body is covered with a deep fine soft close fur.  the colours here described are those which the animale assumes from the middle of April to the middle of November, the ballance of the year they are of a pure white, except the black and redish brown of the ears which never changes.  a fiew redish brown spots are sometimes seen intermixed with the white, at this season, on the heads and upper part of the neck an[d] sholders.  The body of this animal is smaller and longer in purpotion to it’s hight than the Rabbit.  when it runs it carrys its tail streight behind in the direction of it’s body.  they appear to run with more ease and bound with greater agility than any animal I ever saw.  they are extreemly fleet and never burrow or take shelter in the ground when pursued.  it’s teeth are like those of the rabit, as is also its upper lip which is divided as high as the nose.  it’s food is grass, herbs, and in winter feeds much on the bark of several arematic shrubs which grow in the plains and the young willows along the rivers and other water courses.  I have measured the leaps of this animal and find them commonly from 18 to 22 feet.  they are Generally found seperate, and never seen to associate in any number or more than two or three. 

 
Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice