Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbits are the world’s smallest rabbits, and also the rarest. As adults they usually weigh less than a pound. The rabbits live in sagebrush communities. In the wild they eat almost nothing but sagebrush in the winter, in the summer they eat a more varied diet. Their litters contain 2 to 6 kits that are born in spring or summer; in these breeding seasons they can have 2 to 4 litters of kits.
Columbia Basin Pygmy rabbits are extinct in the wild. Their decline is attributed to predation and habitat loss due to agriculture and wildfires. The last 14 were taken in the 1990’s from their home of the Columbia Basin in Washington State to a captive breeding program. In the captive breeding program they were not breeding well, partially due to inbreeding. Since then they have been bred to the Idaho Pygmy Rabbit in an effort to increase the numbers, which has proved successful. The Oregon Zoo has a strong captive breeding program. They had a total of 73 bunnies (kits) in one year. They tag the ears of the kits with colored dye to tell them apart.