Species Assessment For Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus Idahoensis) In Wyoming

Publication Information

Douglas A Keinath
Matthew McGee
Publication Date: 2004-03
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. 


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