Animal Info - Tres Marias Rabbit

(Other Names: Conejo de las Islas Marias, Tres Marias Cottontail)

Sylvilagus graysoni

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Habitat, Behavior)
5. References


Profile

The specific habitat preferred by the Tres Marias rabbit is not known. However, the dominant forms of vegetation on the Tres Marias Islands are tropical dry deciduous and moist forests, which are characterized by a dense cover, with many tree species. All cottontails are terrestrial. They protect themselves by remaining motionless for as long as 15 minutes when closely approached.

The Tres Marias rabbit is endemic to the Tres Marias Islands, Nayarit, Mexico. It was abundant throughout the Tres Marias Islands in 1897, but its numbers had fallen to low levels by 1976. It is thought to have declined by at least 50% in the last 10 years. (Nowak 1999) Two subspecies have been recognized: S.g. graysoni, found on the islands of Maria Madre, Maria Magdalena and Maria Cleofas; and S.g. badistes, found only on San Juanito Island.

Major threats are habitat destruction by inhabitants of the islands and introduced species such as house rats (Rattus rattus), which prey upon the rabbits, and white-tailed deer and domestic goats which compete for food and alter the native vegetation.


Tidbits

*** Rabbits (belonging to many different genera) vs. Hares (all in the genus Lepus): The major differences between rabbits and hares include: 1.) their methods in avoiding predators (rabbits hide in dense vegetation or burrows; hares have longer legs and try to outrun predators), and 2.) the characteristics of their young at birth (newborn rabbits ("kittens") are born naked and with their eyes closed; newborn hares ("leverets") are better developed - their eyes are open and they can move around with some degree of coordination) (Macdonald 2001).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Tres Marias Rabbit Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Mexico (Tres Marias Islands) (IUCN 2004).

History of Distribution:

The Tres Marias rabbit is endemic to the Tres Marias Islands, Nayarit, Mexico. It was abundant throughout the Tres Marias Islands in 1897, but its numbers had fallen to low levels by 1976. It is thought to have declined by at least 50% in the last 10 years. (Nowak 1999) Two subspecies have been recognized: S.g. graysoni, found on the islands of Maria Madre, Maria Magdalena and Maria Cleofas; and S.g. badistes, found only on San Juanito Island.

Distribution Map #1 (14 Kb) (InfoNatura) 
Distribution Map #2
(30 Kb GIF) (AMCELA)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Major threats are habitat destruction by inhabitants of the islands and introduced species such as house rats (Rattus rattus), which prey upon the rabbits, and white-tailed deer and domestic goats which compete for food and alter the native vegetation.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Habitat:

The specific habitat preferred by the Tres Marias rabbit is not known. However, the dominant forms of vegetation on the Tres Marias Islands are tropical dry deciduous and moist forests, which are characterized by a dense cover, with many tree species.

The Tres Marias rabbit is one of the species that live in the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.)

Behavior:

All cottontails are terrestrial. They protect themselves by remaining motionless for as long as 15 minutes when closely approached.


References

AMCELA, Chapman & Flux 1990, Cons. Intl., InfoNatura, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Macdonald 2001, Nowak 1999, Nowak & Paradiso 1983


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Last modified: January 2, 2005;

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