Return to the Mammalia Index

Rabbit (Cottontail)
Lepus sylvaticus

Class  

Mammals

Rabbit (Cottontail)

Range  

Cottontail rabbits are the most common and widely found rabbits in North America. There are several species of cottontail rabbit, the most common is the eastern cottontail. There is also a desert cottontail out in the dry (arid) western ranges.

Habitat  

Cottontail rabbits live on the edges of open fields, forests and wetlands. They like to hide in tall grass, thickets, and along fencerows.

Body Traits  

They have a rounded body with large back feet, long ears, and a round, white, fluffy tail. They vary in color from grayish to reddish brown and have white bellies. They weigh 2-3 pounds.

Habits  

Cottontail rabbits are active all year, mostly at night (nocturnal). They have good sight and hearing and will freeze in place when sensing danger. Their coloring helps them blend in (camouflage). If they are flushed out of hiding they can run up to 18 mph for a short distance. If caught by a predator they can make a loud, shrill scream.

Diet  

They eat grass and green plants and in winter will eat the bark, twigs, and buds of shrubs and young trees (herbivores).

Predators  

They are an important food source for other animals, such as hawks, owls, coyote, fox and bobcat.

Reproduction  

Females are pregnant for about 28 days (gestation) and give birth to 3-8 young in a nest built underground or under thick grass and lined with grass and fur. Females will mate again right after their young are born. From March to early fall females will have 2 - 4 litters. Only 1 in 5 bunnies survive their first year.

Lifespan and/or Conservation Status  

The average lifespan for cottontails is only 4 to 6 months. They are not threatened.


Rabbit (Cottontail)

Classification  

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class:     Mammalia
Order:     Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus:     Sylvilagus
Species: Lepus sylvaticus

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