San José Brush Rabbit

Central America


Sylvilagus mansuetus


  • The most important threat to the San José Brush Rabbit is related to human development activities, in spite of their protected status on San José Island under Mexican law.

Their species name mansuetus is derived from Latin and means tame, as they can be closely approached, and are seen resting in the shade of the trees on San José Island. They are the most genetically distinct species in their genus, Sylvilagus, which contains 15 other species. The San José brush rabbit is listed as critically endangered, primarily due to predation by introduced feral cats. Introduced rats, goats and dogs provide further threats, either as direct predators or as competitors. Human led habitat destruction is another threat, plans for a resort with an accompanying golf course, private airport and small marina have been proposed in prime habitat occupied by the San José brush rabbit. A salt mine has also been proposed near to the area of highest rabbit density. Additionally they are illegally hunted alongside legal hunts of invasive goats. These pressures indicate that the San José brush rabbit desperately needs conservation action, despite being fully protected.

Endemic to Mexico, the San José brush rabbit is only found on San José Island, in the Gulf of California, Baja California Sur, Mexico. This species inhabits an arid island, with higher densities of San José brush rabbit being found in areas of higher tree diversity. The presence of escape cover is an essential requirement for them. They are herbivores, feeding mainly on grasses and other herbaceous plants.