cottontail rabbit Interesting facts

cottontail rabbit Interesting facts

 cottontail rabbit Interesting facts

Cottontail rabbits are a crucial food source for several predators, including coyotes, foxes, and owls. When rabbit populations are reduced, predator populations also decline.

cottontail rabbit Interesting facts
cottontail rabbit Interesting facts

Eastern cottontails belong to the Leporidae family (rabbit and hare family). Cottontails are easy to spot by their long ears, large back feet, and little tails that are white on the underside. they need buff to brownish gray fur with white undersides. Cottontails typically weigh two to four pounds and are adult by six months aged .


The only mammal in Illinois which may be confused with the cottontail is that the Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus). In Illinois, the swamp rabbit is found only within the southern counties. Swamp rabbits are similar in appearance to the cottontail but are larger and have darker, reddish-brown fur. Swamp rabbits are found in thickets or woods bordering swamps and are excellent swimmers.

Massachusetts is home to 2 species of untamed rabbit—the native New England Cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) and therefore the non-native Sylvilagus floridanus (Sylvilagus floridanus). 

The latter was introduced into the state before 1900 and is now far and away the foremost common rabbit in Massachusetts. As a results of this intense competition, the New England Cottontail has become rare throughout the region. 

Both species breed during a sort of human-populated habitats including farmland, suburban yards, and even in isolated, weedy patches within the middle of cities. Since both cottontails and other people exist in large numbers, they interact quite frequently—particularly when rabbit populations peak in late summer and early fall.

cottontail rabbit
cottontail rabbit

How to Identify cottontail rabbit

Both of the species found in Massachusetts look considerably alike, but they are doing have slightly different features.

The New England Cottontail features a darker back, a broad black stripe on the fringes of the ear, and typically a plant disease between the ears. 

The Sylvilagus floridanus features a paler coat, cinnamon-rust nape, and a narrow black margin extending along the front edge and tip of the ear. It sports a white or brown spot on the forehead.

Behavior of cottontail rabbit

Cottontails are solitary creatures that are most active between dusk and dawn. Generally silent, rabbits may communicate by soft grunts and purrs and by thumping the bottom with the hind feet. When caught by a predator, they will produce a bloodcurdling scream. 

Wild cottontails have a anticipation of but two years. Nearly half the young die within a month of birth, largely because cottontails are important links in many food chains. Foxes, weasels, raccoons, minks, snakes, crows, and a number of other common species of raptors are all a minimum of partially hooked in to cottontails for food.

To escape from enemies or to hunt shelter from inclement weather, cottontails use any convenient natural or human-made cavity including a culvert, dense thicket, or existing burrow excavated by a woodchuck, fox, or skunk.

Eastern Cottontails don't hibernate—they are active year-round. the typical Massachusetts cottontail spends its entire life in a neighborhood of but 1.5 acres, although within the winter it's going to move a mile approximately from its summer feeding area so as to get better cover or a replacement food supply.

Food of cottontail rabbit

Cottontails will eat any vegetation from grass to bark, twigs, and buds. Rabbits like better to eat tender young shoots—clover, dandelions, prized tulips—and they'll also damage ornamental trees by eating the bark. within the kitchen garden , their favorites include lettuce, beans, and beets, and that they also enjoy strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Coprophagy (the ingestion of feces) plays a key role in rabbit nutrition. When the rabbit defecates, a number of its fecal pellets are green and moist and contain undigested food. The rabbit swallows these without chewing them. The repeated passage through the rabbit's gut allows time for bacterial digestion to continue, and more nutrients become available for absorption. This re-digestion of food could also be important for the survival of an herbivore that always interrupts its feeding to escape a predator.

cottontail rabbit Life Cycle 

Sexually promiscuous and forming no lasting pair bond, Massachusetts cottontails may mate as early as mid-February and as late as September. The gestation occurs for fewer than 30 days. Litters average five young (rarely as many as eight), and therefore the female is typically receptive to mating soon after parturition . One doe may produce three litters during a New England season.

When a doe cottontail is prepared to offer birth, she finds a convenient hole or rock crevice, or digs a shallow “scrape” (four inches or less in depth) in dry ground. She might seek a site with brushy cover, but it’s commonplace to seek out a nest within the middle of a suburban lawn.

The female lines the nest with several layers of fur, grass, leaves, rabbit droppings, and maybe a touch of paper or other trash. Newborn cottontails are two inches long, 

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cottontail rabbit Interesting facts
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