63            Black-tailed Hare

                            LEPUS CALLOTIS.--Wagler.
                              [Lepus Californicus]

                               BLACK TAILED HARE.
                           [Black-tailed Jack Rabbit]

                              PLATE LXIII.--MALE.

     L. magnitudine, L. glacialem adaequans, supra flavescente fusco canoque
varius, subtus albus; auribus pedibusque praelongis, cauda longa, nigra.

     Size of the polar hare; ears and legs, very long; tail, long and black;
mottled with gray and yellowish-brown above, beneath, white.


     LEPUS CALLOTIS, Wagler, 1832.
     LEPUS NIGRICAUDATUS, Bennett, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of
       London, 1833, p. 41, marked in the Catalogue of the Zoological Society,
     LEPUS NIGRICAUDATUS, Bachman, Journal of the Academy Nat. Sciences,
       philadelphia, vol. vii., pt. 1, p. 84, an. 1839.


     This interesting species is similar to others composing a certain group of
hares found in America, characterized by being large, and having very long ears,
and long and slender legs and bodies, the whole form indicating capacity for
long leaps and rapid locomotion.  In all these characteristics, Lepus Callotis
approaches nearest to TOWNSEND's hare, (Lepus Townsendii,) which may be
considered the type of this group.


     The whole of the upper surface, fawn colour, tipped with black; hairs on
the back, silvery gray for one-third of their length, then pale fawn, then
black, then fawn, tipped with black.  Back of the neck, brownish black, slightly
tipped with fawn.  A number of hairs of unusual length, (two and one-fourth
inches,) and delicately interspersed along the sides; in the greatest abundance
along the shoulders.  These hairs are black from the base for two-thirds of
their length, the remainder pale fawn; sides, and under parts of the neck, dingy
pale fawn, gradually becoming white on the chest; haunches, legs and under
surface white; the hairs on the rump annulated with black, and near the root of
the tail almost entirely black; the whole of the tail on the upper surface to
the extremity black; on the under surface the hairs are black from the roots,
slightly tipped with grayish brown.  Hairs on the under surface of the feet, in
some specimens red, in others a soiled yellowish-brown.  Ears, posteriorly for
two-thirds of their breadth black at the roots, gradually blending into fawn,
and on the inner third the longitudinal line of demarcation being very distinct;
this fawn colour is mixed with black hairs, edged at the tip with black, the
remainder of the edge fawn; the outer margin of the posterior surface to its
apex pure white.  Inner surface of the ears nearly naked, except at the outer
edge, where they are clothed with short grizzled brown hairs.  Whiskers white
and black, the former predominating; chin and throat, white.  The marginal line
of demarcation between the colour of the back and that of the under surface, is
somewhat abrupt across the upper portion of the thighs, and very distinctly



     Length from point of nose to root of tail,.  .  .  .  .  .   20
     Tail (vertebrae), .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    1 1/2
     Tail including fur,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    2 1/2
     From heel to longest nail, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    4 3/4
     Head over the curve, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    4 1/2
     From eye to nose, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    1 3/4
     Ears posteriorly, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    4 3/4
     Greatest breadth, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    2 1/3


     Our account of this species is principally derived from the journals of J.
W. AUDUBON, kept during his journey through part of Texas, made for the purpose
of procuring the animals of that State, and obtaining some knowledge of their
habits for our present work, in 1845 and 1846, with an extract from which we now
present our readers.
     "One fine morning in January, 1845, at San Antonio de Bexar, as I mounted
my faithful one-eyed chesnut horse, admiring his thin neck and bony legs, his
delicate head and flowing flaxen tail and mane, I was saluted with a friendly
good morning by Mr. CALAHAN, then holding the important office of mayor of the
little village; and on his ascertaining that my purpose was to have a morning
hunt on the prairies and through the chapparal, which I did day after day, he
agreed to accompany me in search of the animals I was anxiously trying to
obtain, and in quest of which I rode over miles of prairie with my bridle on the
knobbed pummel of my Texan saddle, the most comfortable saddle I have ever
tried, (being a sort of half Spanish, half English build,) my horse with his
neck stretched out and his head about on a level with his shoulders, walking
between four and five miles an hour, turning to the right or to the left
agreeably to the slightest movement of my body, so well was he trained, leaving
both hands and eyes free, so that I could search with the latter every twig,
tussock or thicket, and part the thick branches of the chapparal of musquit,
prickly holly, and other shrubs, which I am inclined to think quite equal to any
East-Indian jungle in offering obstructions to the progress of either horse or
     Mr. CALAHAN having mounted, we set out, and after about an hour's hard
work, occupied in crossing one of the thickest covers near the town, gained the
broad and nearly level prairie beyond, across which to the west we could see
varied swelling undulations, gradually fading into the faint outline of a
distant spur, perhaps of the rocky chain of mountains that in this latitude lie
between the water courses flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico, and the streams
that empty into the Gulf of California: so far away indeed seemed these faint
blue peaks that it required but a little stretch of the imagination to fancy the
plains of California but just at the other side.  I was enchanted with the
scene, scarcely knowing whether the brilliant fore-ground of cacti and tropical
plants, the soft indefinite distance, or the clear summer blue sky, was most
beautiful.  My companion observing my enthusiasm, warmed into praises of his
adopted country, he had, he said, fought hard for it, and exclaimed, it is a
country worth fighting for; when my reply, of whatever nature it might have
been, was prevented, and all ideas of blue mountains, vast rolling prairies,
&c., were cut short by a jackass rabbit bounding from under our horses' feet; he
was instantly followed by my worthy friend the mayor at full speed on his white
pony, to my great annoyance, for otherwise he would have stopped in a hundred
yards or so.  Away they went, and as my friend's horse was a running nag, he
doubtless expected to overtake the Hare, which had only gained about fifty yards
start during our momentary surprise.  The Hare, as I quickly observed, did not
make much shorter leaps than the horse.  I could see it at each bound appear
like a jack-o'-lantern floating with the breeze over a swamp, but in less time
than I have taken to write this, they had ran a mile, the Hare doubled and was a
hundred yards in advance, but could not stop and look behind, for he had such a
race that he, knew well no time was to be lost in gaining some bed of cactus or
chapparal.  Now on came both Hare and hunter, and the race was of the swiftest
when another double caused the rider to pull up with such force that his stirrup
leather broke, and the space between the mayor and the object of his pursuit was
widened to a quarter of a mile, and the chase ended; our friend dismounting to
refit.  We had not the good fortune to start another of these hares that day.
     Some time afterwards while at Castroville, a little place of about a dozen
huts and one house, this Hare was procured by a party of Indians and brought to
J. W. AUDUBON, who writes:  "I chanced to be visited by some of the Shawnee
Indians who were in the neighbourhood on a hunting expedition.  They were highly
astonished and pleased with my drawings, which I exhibited to them while trying
to explain what animals I wanted.  I made a hasty sketch of a hare with
immensely long ears, at which I pointed with an approving nod of the head, and
then made another sketch smaller and with shorter ears, at which last I shook my
head and made wry faces; the Indians laughed, and by their gutteral eugh, haugh,
li, gave me to understand that they comprehended me; and in a day or two, I had
a beautiful specimen of the Black-tailed Hare brought to me, but with the head
shot off by a rifle ball.  The Indians were quite disappointed that it did not
answer my purpose, and smoothed down the fur on the body, which is the only part
of the skin they generally preserve, and what they thought I wanted.
     The specimen I drew from was shot by POWEL, one of Colonel HAYS' rangers,
from whom I received many attentions and who acted most kindly while with me on
one of my excursions from San Antonio.  This Hare is so rare in those parts of
Texas that I visited, that I can say little of its habits.  It appears to be
solitary, or nearly so, fond of high open prairie with clumps of trees, or
rather bushes and thickets about them, trusting to its speed for safety and only
taking cover from hawks and eagles.  Near San Petruchio, as I was informed, this
Hare is more abundant than in this vicinity, and two or three of them can
occasionally be started in a morning's ride."
     The specimen from which Mr. BENNETT described and named this Hare (Lepus
nigricaudatus, Bennett, Zoological Proceedings, 1833, p. 41), has a more
definitely marked line of white along the sides and legs than the one I drew
from; but this species varies so much in its markings, that one figure with the
characters given is probably as like the majority as another.
     The line of white and black near the tip of the ears extended
longitudinally, is by many considered a good specific character, but it does
not, I think, hold out in respect to this animal.
     It is singular that this fine species of Hare should be so rare in the
collections of Europe; I saw only two, and did not hear of the existence of any
in the museums which I had not an opportunity of examining.
     Since the Mexican war broke out, several have been sent home by our
officers.  We have the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of a fine skin from
Lieutenant ABERT, who also favoured us with some skins of quadrupeds from the
vicinity of Santa Fe, which we shall have occasion to notice elsewhere, and for
which we return him our best thanks.
     This species is called the Jackass Rabbit in Texas, owing to the length of
its ears.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     This Hare is found as far north as Santa Fe, in the great prairies; it does
not, however, occur near the shores of the lower Red River, nor near the Gulf of
Mexico indeed, until we get as far south as about latitude 30 degrees, from
which parallel to the southward it becomes more abundant, and may be said to be
the common Hare of Mexico.  Whether it is found beyond the limits of North
America we are unable to say, but suppose not, as the museums of Europe have
been better supplied with South American species than with those of our northern
portion of the Western hemisphere, and as already observed, do not contain more
than the two specimens mentioned above, one of which is stated to have been
received from Mexico and the other from California.

                                GENERAL REMARKS.

     There is a specimen in the Berlin Museum, labelled Lepus Callotis, WAGLER,
described by him in 1832.  This specimen corresponds in all essential
particulars with that which exists in the Zoological Museum of London, described
by BENNETT.  Hence we are obliged to adopt WAGLER's name, he having the priority
as the first scientific describer.