RFI: Volcano Rabbit

Hi all,

I’m thinking about visiting Mexico sometime this summer for mammal watching and am in the process of gathering info on species (I’ve already got a bunch of pretty good gen to work with). I’m planning on visiting Chihuahua (Copper Canyon area), Colima/Michoacan, Mexico City area, and Oaxaca (probably saving Baja and Nuevo Leon for another trip) and have lots of target species, so any other gen would be really appreciated. Specifically, I am planning to visit Tehuantepec, Huatulco NP, La Placita (Michoacan), Mexico City area, and Sierra Tarahumara.

I’m having a bit of trouble getting decent sites to try for Volcano Rabbit (very high on my list of course!), as it’s all either old research papers (many from places where they’re now extinct) or imprecise markers on iNaturalist. It seems one of the better spots, the road to Tlamacas, is now closed.

From what I can tell, Popo-Izta NP is the place to be, but specifically where – any current info would be really appreciated on specific sites where I’d have a decent chance of seeing one of these animals. Thanks!

Venkat

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12 Comments on “RFI: Volcano Rabbit”

  1. vdinets Says:

    The entire saddle between Itza and Popo is good habitat. If the road is closed from both sides, you might be able to sneak in on foot anyway, it’s less than 10 miles walk. I’d also get myself some kind of official-looking paper stating that I’m doing important research, that might impress whoever is manning the roadblock. There are also some trails up Itza from San Rafael that reach the right habitat.

    In Tehuantepec, plan on spending at least 2 (better 3) nights driving in Mar Muerte area if you want to see the jackrabbit for sure. They were already difficult to find when I was there in 2003.

    • vnsankar Says:

      Thanks Vladimir! Do you have any tips for Pygmy Spotted Skunk?

      • vdinets Says:

        I’ve seen it twice: on Hwy 200 in Jalisco in 2003 and in Meseta de Cacaxtla NR in Sinaloa in 2004. But I wouldn’t call this “tips”. I think the best thing to do would be to bring some tomahawk traps, and also to spend a lot of time night-driving small forest roads near the coast.

    • vnsankar Says:

      Regarding Volcano Rabbit, I believe the road to Cortes Pass from Amecameca and Puebla is still open. I think just the spur up Popo to Tlamacas Research station has been closed to the public. Are there any specific sites worth trying on/near the main road?

      • vdinets Says:

        Just look for good bunchgrass patches. There is also a road up Itza (it branches off at the same place as the one to Tlamacas). The road to Tlamacas is only ~2 miles long, you can easily walk it if the gate is locked.

    • vnsankar Says:

      One more thing… Do you know any reliable spots for Phillips’ K-rat, White-sided Jackrabbit and Mexican Fox Squirrel near the areas I’m visiting? Thank you so much for the help.

      • vdinets Says:

        PKR occurs at La Cima near Mexico City (the directions are in one of my trip reports here, and also in many birding guides to Mexico). I’ve also seen it on the road from Amecameca to Itza-Popo.

        WSJ occurs in and around Tula in Hidalgo (a short drive from Mexico DF). But it’s much more common in Chihuahua, particularly at Janos prairie-dog supercolony.

        I’ve seen MFS in LaMichilía Biosphere Reserve in Durango, on the road to Nevado del Colima in Jalisco,and around the headwaters of Rio Fuerte in Sinaloa (but the latter place is extremely unsafe now).

  2. Jon Hall Says:

    Hi Venkat, a non mammal watching mate of mine was climbing one of the Volcanoes a couple of weeks ago and saw what I assume was Volcano Rabbit. He said in the Amecameca area but I don’t know more than that. I can try to get more info when I am back from Africa in a week or so. By the way, Pygmy Spotted Skunk is pretty easy to see around Massaya Volcano in Nicaragua

    • vnsankar Says:

      Please let me know about the Volcano Rabbits. I’ll be trying for Pygmy Spotted Skunk near Huatulco NP in Oaxaca (Southern SS is at Massaya I think; pygmaea is endemic to Mexico) after Tehuantepec; apparently most research on this species is from Chamela-Cuixmala but they used lots of tomahawk traps and from what I’ve heard, there are basically no roads in that forest so wildlife viewing is probably limited without significant time. I got good info on Margay from Jason Jones (Crotalus) so I may go for that too in Michoacan along with the skunk. No matter my final schedule, I’ll come back with LOTS of info 🙂 Mexico is one truly amazing place…

    • vnsankar Says:

      Btw, I believe there are also Eastern and maybe Mexican Cottontails in the bunchgrass up on Izta too (you can’t climb Popo anymore), so it could be one of those. I need Mexican Cottontail though so that would be good too – trying to figure out reliable spots for that one…

      • Jon Hall Says:

        Ahh…. then I don’t think I can help in that case. Sorry Venkat. He’s a mountaineer not a mammal fan and I don’t think he’d know the difference. There are Mexican Cottontails near Cuixmala but if you read my report you will know that I didn’t manage to see them. Looking forward to your report for sure!

    • vnsankar Says:

      Regarding the Mexican Cottontail, I actually just read that they apparently used be common around Chamela in the 1990s but were hunted out more recently. Sierra de Manantlan in Jalisco and Volcan Malinche in Tlaxcala seem like better spots and maybe also the more remote Michoacan coast. Apparently they are also very common near Omilteme in Guerrero too (near farms/plantations and coniferous forest, while Omilteme Cottontail persists in remnant cloud forest at low densities).


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