They avoid predation with speed and caution. Eastern Cottontail Rabbit. The repeated passage through the rabbit’s gut allows time for bacterial digestion to continue, and more nutrients become available for absorption. It spends most of … Mother rabbits bathe their newborns and place them in a nest, which is an indentation lined with grass, leaves and the mother’s own fur. Teeth grinding: The sound of a rabbit grinding its teeth is nearly unmistakable. The desert cottontail is most active in the early morning and in the evening. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. It also has distinctive large eyes for its size. Eastern Cottontail 7. Subscribe to our e-news for the latest events, updates and info. The spring molt, lasting from mid-April to mid-July, leaves a short summer coat that is more brown. Some species are quite territorial, or the groups defend their territories together. Behavior: Marsh rabbits eat a variety of plants found in and around wetlands. We see cottontail rabbits in our yards, parks, gardens and fields, so let's learn a little bit more about these adorable creatures. The eastern cottontail is a very territorial animal. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Do NOT bring orphaned or injured wildlife to Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries. Sometimes it will rest in the burrow of another animal. While a rabbit such as the Eastern cottontail still sleeps during the day, foraging at dawn and dusk, he's more active at night in the summer, when food is more readily available. From mid-September to the end of October, the change to longer, grayer pelage occurs for winter. Cottontail rabbits eat a wide variety of plant foods including grasses, sedges, sprouts, leaves, fruits, buds, and bark. The Eastern cottontail is very good at surviving, but its lifespan is short, 3 years at a maximum, so this helps in keeping population in control. The latter was introduced into the state before 1900 and is now the most common rabbit in Massachusetts. Nests are built at night, in brush … The eastern cottontail rabbit is one of the most common mammals of both the natural and the human generated ecosystems of North America. It spends the hottest part of the day under cover. To try and stay alive, cottontail rabbits learn early on how to hide and burrow effectively -- under bushes, in tunnels or any cavities. Behavior Cottontail rabbits are hunted by many predators, so they only live two to three years in the wild. The gestation period occurs for less than 30 days. The eastern cottontail has four pairs of mammary glands. It may use the dens of groundhogsas a temporary home or during heavy … Description The cottontail rabbit is a medium-sized rabbit that has long ears, large hind legs, shorter front legs, a brief fluffy tail and soft fur. Eastern cottontails do not hibernate, but are active year-round. Sometimes the desert cottontail climbs sloping trees and tree stumps to sit and keep watch for predators and other dangers. The rabbit swallows these without chewing them. Since both cottontails and people exist in large numbers and are nearly ubiquitous, they interact frequently, particularly when rabbit populations peak in late summer and early fall. Sexually promiscuous and forming no lasting pair bond, Massachusetts cottontails may mate as early as mid-February and as late as September. Cottontail rabbits spend the majority of their life trying to hide from swooping predators. Rabbits prefer to eat tender young shoots—clover, dandelions, prized tulips—and they may also damage ornamental trees by eating the bark. The eastern cottontail is a typical rabbit with long ears and hind legs. August 27, 2020. Cottontail rabbits are tiny little things, ranging in size from 15.5 to 18.75 inches, and weighing as little as 28 ounces -- although boys can weigh as much as 54 ounces. Donations to Mass Audubon are tax-deductible to the full extent provided by law. How to Tell the Difference Between Cougar & Bobcat Prints, The Difference Between Cottontails & European Rabbits, Reasons Why the Volcano Rabbit Might Be Extinct. Cottontail rabbits are tiny little things, ranging in size from 15.5 to 18.75 inches, and weighing as little as 28 ounces -- although boys can weigh as much as 54 ounces. These grassy, leafy spaces are excellent for the cottontail's diet, which consists mainly of grass and herbs. Boxing with paw-raking was the principle behavior utilized by cottontail rabbits in establishing a social hierarchy. Behavior. Breeding occurs year-round but peaks December through June. “If a person does manage to catch one, they will often fight, twist, and kick repeatedly in an effort to get free. Day to Day. The average Massachusetts cottontail spends its entire life in an area of less than an acre and a half, although in the winter it may move a mile or so from its summer feeding area in order to obtain better cover or a new food supply. It also allows them to stay cool in hot climates. Foxes, weasels, raccoons, minks, snakes, crows, and several common species of hawks and owls, are all at least partially dependent on cottontails for food. There are several species of cottontail rabbit, but the eastern cottontail is the most common. Mothers dig a nursery burrowto contain a nest before they give birth. Be Her Village. © 2020 WILD SKY MEDIA. When chased, it runs in a zigzag pattern, running up to 18 mph (29 km/h). The female lines the nest with several layers of fur, grass, leaves, rabbit droppings, and perhaps a bit of paper or other trash. Generally silent, rabbits may communicate by soft grunts and purrs and by thumping the ground with the hind feet. In the vegetable garden, their favorites include lettuce, beans, and beets, and they also enjoy strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Mountain Cottontail 8. Forests, swamps, thickets, bushes, or open areas where shelter is close by are optimal habitation sites for this species. For Rabbit Rescuers and Shelters (43) For the Kids (5) Gifts and Supplies (13) House Rabbit Journal (270) House Rabbits 101 (21) Just for Fun (21) Life with a House Rabbit (46) Links (13) News (183) Pet Loss Support (12) Rabbit Behavior (94) Aggression and Age-Related Behavior (11) Litter Training (1) Multiple Rabbits (33) Rabbit Personality (34) Mountain Cottontail rabbit feeding behavior. THE COTTONTAIL AND THE SWAMP RABBIT A>arsden and Holler 7 Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife ), Bill T. Crawford, Kenneth C. Sadler, Clif- Males fight with one another. Their mating behavior is interesting. Cottontail rabbits are almost completely mute animals. It will be directed not only to each other, but also at their favorite people. In the United States, cottontail rabbits reside all over the country, both in colder and warmer climates. The desert cottontail can also swim and runs at speeds of up to fifteen miles an hour. The eastern cottontail can leap distances of between 10 and 15 feet. They are most active at night, dusk and dawn, the same time many of the marsh rabbit's predators — owls, foxes, bobcats and alligators — are active as well. She lines the depression with grass and fur from her body, then adds a covering of twigs and leaves. Litters average five young (rarely as many as eight), and the female is usually receptive to mating soon after giving birth. Tres Marias Cottontail Out of these the Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus) is the largest and the B… This rabbit undergoes two molts per year. They are super speedy and almost impossible to catch without a trap. Mexican Cottontail 6. Before giving birth, a mother cottontail makes a nest by digging a depression in the ground about 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep. It’s so un… Desert Cottontail 5. Some of the sub-species that fall under the cottontail breed are: 1. The eastern cottontail differs only slightly, with a paler coat, a cinnamon-rust nape, and a narrow black margin extending along the front edge and tip of the ear. Which of the Five Senses Do Rabbits Depend on the Most? This re-digestion of food may be important for the survival of an herbivore that often interrupts its feeding to flee a predator. The native wild New England cottontail, probably as a consequence of this competition, has become rare throughout the region. Cottontails will eat any vegetation from grass to bark, twigs, and buds. Eastern Cottontail Reproduction. The desert cottontail does not build its own den, although it may scratch a depression under a bush or other vegetation. Massachusetts is home to two species of rabbit, the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) and the eastern cottontail (S. floridanus). Rabbits also leave pea-sized, light-brown droppings scattered around the area. This stretched-out length allows them to better hear predators that may be approaching. The oldest complete rabbit fossil, found in 2008 in India, dates back 53 million years to the Eocene Epoch. This is true regardless of the color of the rabbit, which can vary from gray to reddish brown, according to National Geographic. It is hard to confuse it with purring even though it is made the same way. Make sure the animal you suspect is inflicting damage is indeed a rabbit: Rabbits have upper incisors, so plants they have browsed can be identified by their smooth, clean-angled, neatly clipped appearance, while plants browsed by deer appear ragged and torn. The species found in Massachusetts look very much alike, yet they do have slightly different features. However, they have been known for screaming and screeching quite loudly if caught by a predator. Many rabbits, cottontails included, are quite social, but this is not true of all species. When fleeing from a predator, cottontail rabbits use a zigzag running pattern and can reach speeds of up to 18 miles an hour. It sports a white or light brown spot on the forehead. Swamp Rabbit 2. The winter diet includes small grains, as well as twigs, bark, and buds of shrubs and trees. Due to their size and inability to defend themselves, many young rabbits are taken by prey when they are mere months old. Although sometimes considered a pest by farmers, they are quite adaptable and will move on to live in a more suitable area if no food is available where they are. They emerge during the day, when fewer predators are around, to search for food. Cottontail rabbits are called that because the underside of their tails -- which curls up against the lower back -- is white, just like a small piece of cotton. They don’t like to be socialized much; rather, they are conservative. They communicate with each other by thumping with their back feet against the ground. Cottontails are solitary creatures, active mostly between dusk and dawn. Our guy here, the eastern cottontail, is more likely … March Rabbit 3. There are at least 16 sub-species that fall under the main cottontail species. Another interesting fact is that cottontail rabbits tend to have a quite small home range. Blue Eastern Cottontail Pee next to Rabbit Scat: 4. Both male and female perform dance. Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. From the Eastern cottontail rabbit adaptations in living style and behavior, one must realize that no matter how small the species, survival is always due to the fittest. According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, most rabbits live in an area that's about 9 acres in size. In Iowa, we have only one rabbit species, the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus). Cottontail rabbit hunting is a simple proposition on paper. Appalachian Cottontail 9. The tail is short, fluffy, 30-70 mm (1.2-2.8 in) in length, brown above and white below. It was six times the size of the four-pound cottontails of today, had smaller eyes and ears, dug for its food and didn’t hop. How Deep in the Ground Can Yellow Jackets Be Found. As with the vast majority of animals, behavior varies from species to species. Behavior and Feeding. Cottontail rabbit kids arrive approximately 28 days after the parents mate. To get away from a predator, a cottontail rabbit will run in a zigzag pattern and reach speeds of up to 18 mph (29 km/h), according to National Geographic. Oat straw and alfalfa hay are used in the nest as additional food sour… If appearance alone doesn’t clear up any doubt, behavior will seal the deal. Add Comment. The Eastern Cottontail has many enemies to worry about - foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, cats, dogs, weasels and snakes. Empower Her. Outdoor cottontail rabbits are extremely skittish and won’t willingly approach you. It is mostly nocturnal, but it sometimes will come out in the early morning and at dusk and sometimes during the day on dark days. Learn More about what you can do if you have rabbits in your garden or nests in your yard. They mature rapidly, leaving the nest in just over two weeks and become completely independent by the time they reach three- to four-weeks old. While rabbits generally steer clear of people, they can damage gardens. When the rabbit defecates, some of its fecal pellets are green and moist and contain undigested food. Once establised, the hierarchy was continuously reinforced by the dominant animal. You either push through the gnarly stuff until bunnies bust out and roll them with a load of 7.5 shot, or slip along a brushy fenceline with a scoped .22 and plink them as they hang tight and try to blend in.. captive male cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus ). To escape from enemies or to seek shelter from inclement weather, cottontails use any convenient natural or human-made cavity, such as a culvert, a dense thicket, or an existing burrow excavated by a woodchuck, fox, or skunk. Fast on their feet In 2011 a gigantic fossil was unearthed on the small island Mallorca, off the coast of Spain. New England Cottontail 10. 1. They have a very high reproductive rate (1 to 5 in a litter 26-30 days after mating), a necessity as they are prey for a wide variety of carnivores. Both species breed in a variety of human-populous habitats, including farmland, suburban yards, and even in isolated, weedy patches in the city. It is especially abundant in habitats that contain edges of open, grassy fields and thorny or shrubby cover. Many species also live in underground tunnels to hide from predators. The eastern cottontails is solitary and very territorial. Coprophagy, or the ingestion of feces, plays a role in rabbit nutrition. Differences Between Cottontail Rabbits and Snowshoe Hares. Read More. The New England cottontail has a darker back, a broad black stripe on the outer edge of the ear, and usually a black spot between the ears. It was a rabbit that hopped and was very similar to those of today, but with smaller ears and a longer tail. Generally silent, rabbits may communicate by soft grunts and purrs and by thumping the ground with the hind feet. ... A cottontail generally will hop from place to place, but it can put on a burst of speed and dodge quickly when fleeing a predator. Dice’s Cottontail 4. Except for the rust colored nape, the upper parts of the body and chest are pinkish or reddish to grayish brown sprinkled with black. Because they live all over the continent, cottontail rabbits can be found anywhere from forests to open fields to grassy areas in general -- as long as there are enough shrubs for them to use as hiding spaces. Shape The World. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Desert Cottontail. Cottontails are solitary creatures, active mostly between dusk and dawn. This parental schedule explains why human observers often assume that rabbit nests have been abandoned. Mass Audubon is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 04-2104702) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Male rabbit thus chases the female. During the summer months, cottontails primarily eat grasses, legumes, succulent annuals, weeds, as well as the occasional garden vegetable. The Mexican cottontail's breeding season occurs throughout the year, but especially during the warm and wet summer months (March to October). The eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus, likes it dry.Its cousin, the marsh rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris, likes it wet.. That, in a nutshell, is the major difference between the two rabbit species that call Florida home. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College. Temperament/Behavior. Its similar relative, the jackrabbit, is a hare, not a rabbit. A young rabbit won’t reach full size for about four months. Rabbits can be very crafty and quick. Cottontail rabbits are hunted by many predators, so they only live two to three years in the wild. INTRODUCTION Social behavior of several species of rabbits has been studied When a doe cottontail is ready to give birth, she finds a convenient hole or rock crevice, or digs a shallow “scrape” (four inches or less in depth) in dry ground. When caught by a predator, they can produce a bloodcurdling scream. Nearly half the young die within a month of birth, chiefly because cottontails are important links in many food chains. She might seek a site with brushy cover, but it’s not unusual to find a nest in the middle of a suburban lawn. Cottontails do not dig burrows, but rather rest in a form, a shallow, scratched-out depression in a clump of grass or under brush. For Rabbit Rescuers and Shelters (43) For the Kids (5) Gifts and Supplies (13) House Rabbit Journal (270) House Rabbits 101 (21) Just for Fun (21) Life with a House Rabbit (46) Links (13) News (183) Pet Loss Support (12) Rabbit Behavior (94) Aggression and Age-Related Behavior (11) Litter Training (1) Multiple Rabbits (33) Rabbit Personality (34) The mother cottontail bunny leaves them so she can forage but remains nearby to watch for predators. The average lifespan of a cottontail rabbit is two years if it can reach the age of adulthood. The Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni) is the most abundant and well known of the desert mammals. Their best method of defense is their ability to remain unseen. How Do Cottontail Rabbits Build Nests for Giving Birth? Eastern cottontail usually mates during February and September. Newborn cottontails are two inches long, weigh less than one ounce, and are naked, blind, and deaf—therefore totally helpless. Wild cottontails have a life expectancy of less than two years. Their ears can grow to 4 inches (10 cm). Mutual grooming is definitely part of rabbit behavior that indicates a bond, regardless of whether the rabbits are neutered/spayed. The sleeping patterns of wild rabbits differs somewhat from their domestic cousins, especially in the summer months. Nests are constructed of several materials including dry grasses, pine needles, and bits of woody plants. The cottontail prefers an area where it can hide quickly but be out in the open. Cottontail rabbits are wild rabbits found all over North and South America. Males take no part whatever in the rearing process, and on average, the female suckles the young only two or three times per night, rarely visiting the nest otherwise.. During the day, she usually rests in a hollow or “form” of her own making, about 20 feet or so from the nest. PART OF WILD SKY MEDIA | FAMILY & PARENTING, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Cottontail Rabbits, How to Make the Ultimate Obstacle Course for Rabbits.