Photo Credit: Kathy Hicks
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sylviagus floridanus
DESCRIPTION: Cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) have short, fluffy, white tails that are raised when alarmed. The hind legs and feet are much longer than the front legs and feet. In relation to head size, the ears are disproportionately long. The body fur is usually a reddish-brown color with a white under-side. Adult cottontail rabbits normally weigh between two and four pounds and have a body length of 12 to 19 inches.
DISTRIBUTION: Sylvilagus floridanus is commonly found in the eastern
HABITAT: The cottontail rabbit is almost entirely vegetarian and is therefore associated with early growth habitats such as fields and fencerows that provide the necessary food and cover. They are very successful in areas that provide a variety of habitat types within their home range. Lands containing mixtures of croplands, pastures, idle fields, and hay fields offer good cottontail habitat. Cut-over forest lands also provide good cottontail areas, as well as plum thickets, briar patches, brush, fencerows, and un-mowed ditch banks.
FEEDING HABITS: During summer, the majority of a cottontail’s diet consists of grasses, sedges, fruits, buds, sprouts, and other tender green vegetation. Cottontails also like to invade gardens for “dessert foods” like beans and lettuce. Leaves, waste grains, grasses, forbs, bark and stems of young trees and shrubs are important winter foods.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: In
Madson, John, 1963. The Cottontail Rabbit. Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation, East Alton,
Waters, Robert E., 1994. Some Things You Should Know About Wildlife in
AUTHOR: Randy Liles, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries