The Year of the Rabbit, 2011, is almost here. It seems as if the jackrabbits are out celebrating on California hills. These hares, along with ground squirrels, are one of the most visible mammals near Northern California backyards.
Their first prominent characteristic is their long ears. During hot, dry summers, heat drifts out of the ears into the air. Jackrabbits' eyes are also unique. As in all hares, in contrast to rabbits, young jackrabbits are born with their eyes open. They also have all their fur, a buff color with black specks mixed in. This color blends well with the golden hills of the summer landscape. However, in winter, when the grass greens, jackrabbits feel more hidden next to brush piles, such as the one in the picture below. If they cannot escape a predator by hiding, the hares are able to use strong legs to run up to 36 miles per hour, over short distances.
Jackrabbits are symbols of spring. They have been observed gazing at the full moon, since they usually snack at night. They leave baby bunnies in a sort of basket. The mother jackrabbit makes many small bowls in the ground, called forms. She hides each of her bunnies in a form, and she checks on them at twilight, an activity symbolic of Easter.
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