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Brachylagus idahoensis

Scientific Name:Brachylagus idahoensis
Common name:pygmy rabbit
Rank and Status   
Global Rank:G4 Native Status:Native
Subnational (State) Rank:S3 Endemic:No
US ESA Status:None Sand Dunes:No
NNHP Tracking Status:At-Risk List Wetland:No
Other Agency Status Status Last Updated Status Comments
Bureau of Land Management - Nevada Sensitive BLM Nevada Sensitive Species List dated 2017-10-01
US Forest Service - Region 4 (Intermountain) Sensitive USFS list, Jan 2015 update
US Forest Service - Region 5 (California) Sensitive USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region [R5], Sensitive Animal Species by Forest, updated 09/09/2013
State of Nevada Protected Game Mammal NAC 503.020
Nevada Wildlife Action Plan - 2012 Species of Conservation Priority
Nevada Wildlife Action Plan - 2005 Species of Conservation Priority
CCVI Score Extremely Vulnerable Conf. Mod.; Factors contributing to increased vulnerability are climate change mitigation, historical hydrological niche, disturbance, physical habitat, other spp for habitat, and diet.
Distribution (NV Counties)

Status: Predicted or probable

Churchill Washoe

Status: Confident or certain

Elko Humboldt Lincoln Nye
Eureka Lander Lyon White Pine
Summary Occurrence Data
Occurrence Count:144
Total Observed Area (hectares):Not Available
Maximum Known Elevation (m):2700
Minimum Known Elevation (m):1206
Brachylagus idahoensis data at NatureServe
Brachylagus idahoensis photos and data at Encyclopedia of Life
Character Abstract
Identification Comments:
Subspecies Comments:
Food Habits:Big sagebrush is the primary food which may comprise up to 99% of food taken in winter and 51% in the summer. Wheatgrass and bluegrass were highly preferred foods in the summer, while forbs were eaten only occasionally (Green and Flinders 1980).
Phenology Comments:
Reproduction Comments:Breeding period extends from spring to early summer. Gestation lasts probably about 27-30 days. May have up to 3 litters per year (Green and Flinders 1980). May have 6 young/litter (Ingles 1965).
Migration Mobility:Relatively slow moving and require cover as protection from predators. Connectivity is mostly within individual valleys and mountain ranges. Barriers such as dry playas and montane habitat, as well as agricultural fields, large burned areas, and urban areas may not provide protection; pygmy rabbits are unlikely to cross them successfully (Larrucea and Brussard 2008).
Habitat Comments:Found primarily on big sagebrush dominated plains, and alluvial fans where plants occur in tall, dense clumps (Green and Flinders 1980). Deep, friable, loamy-type soils are required for burrow excavation. They may occasionally use burrows excavated by other species (e.g., yellow-bellied marmot), therefore, may occur in areas that support shallower, more compact soils as long as sufficient shrub cover is available (USFWS 2010b). Dense stands of sage growing adjacent to permanent and intermittent streams, along fence rows, and ditches may be avenues of dispersal (Green and Flinders 1980). Cover and height of woody vegetation appear to be critical habitat features (Green and Flinders 1980); however, Larrucea and Brussard (2008) found that pygmy rabbits occupied clusters of sagebrush that were taller/higher than the sagebrush shrubs in the surrounding area (i.e., sagebrush islands which ranged from 12-117cm in height).
Ecology comments:This is the only native leporid in NV to excavate its own burrows (Weiss and Verts 1984; Janson 1946). Dispersal abilities are limited; this species is reluctant to cross open areas such as roads or areas cleared of sagebrush (Weiss and Verts 1984). The size of pygmy rabbit home ranges fluctuate with the seasons; they tend to have smaller home ranges during winter and larger home ranges during the spring and summer. Individuals generally remain near their burrows during the winter (one study noted within 30 m and another within 80-100 m). One study found that annual home ranges in southeastern Oregon and northwestern Nevada differed between the sexes and ranged from 1.2 to 25.8 ac (0.49 to 10.46 ha) for males and 0.27 to 18.7 ac (0.11 to 7.55 ha) for females. Male home ranges tend to be larger than females during the spring and summer as males travel further among a number of females. In the southeastern Oregon and northwestern Nevada study, home ranges for males ranged from 0.27 to 18.5 ac (0.11 to 7.49 ha) and from 0.15 to 17.5 ac (0.06 to 7.10 ha) for females during the breeding season. Juvenile dispersal in Nevada and Oregon was reported greater than 0.3 mi (0.5 km) with a maximum long-distance movement of 5.3 mi (8.5 km) recorded by a juvenile female.
Version Date:06/24/1998 - 12:00am
Photographer: Copyright Aaron Ambos
Photo Date:
individual foraging on sagebrush
Photographer: Copyright Aaron Ambos
Photo Date:
sheltering individual in habitat
Photographer: Copyright Aaron Ambos
Photo Date: