Species Assessment For Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus Idahoensis) In Wyoming
Author(s):Publication Date: 2004-03
Douglas A Keinath
Tags: WLCI Agency Report, WLCI, BLM
The pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) is the smallest of any North American rabbit
species. It was first described as Lepus idahoensis in 1891 by Meriam (Meriam 1891). It is
endemic to sagebrush habitats in the Great Basin and adjacent intermountain areas and typically
occupies tall and dense sagebrush patches. Pygmy rabbits are dietary specialists on big sagebrush.
They are considered a keystone species in big sagebrush communities because they don’t thrive in
habitats dominated by other shrub species, they exhibit a unique fossorial behavior, other species
of vertebrates and invertebrates use their extensive burrow system, and they provide a reliable
food supply for terrestrial and avian predators (Wilson and Ruff 1999). This species is locally
threatened in parts of its range by alteration of sagebrush steppe habitat resulting in fragmented
and isolated populations vulnerable to extinction.