When the rabbit defecates, some of its fecal pellets are green and moist and contain undigested food. Cottontail rabbits are hunted by many predators, so they only live two to three years in the wild. The mother cottontail bunny leaves them so she can forage but remains nearby to watch for predators. Cottontail rabbits spend the majority of their life trying to hide from swooping predators. When chased, it runs in a zigzag pattern, running up to 18 mph (29 km/h). It was a rabbit that hopped and was very similar to those of today, but with smaller ears and a longer tail. It is especially abundant in habitats that contain edges of open, grassy fields and thorny or shrubby cover. How to Tell the Difference Between Cougar & Bobcat Prints, The Difference Between Cottontails & European Rabbits, Reasons Why the Volcano Rabbit Might Be Extinct. The eastern cottontail is a very territorial animal. Their ears can grow to 4 inches (10 cm). In Iowa, we have only one rabbit species, the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus). Male rabbit thus chases the female. 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. INTRODUCTION Social behavior of several species of rabbits has been studied It sports a white or light brown spot on the forehead. Desert Cottontail 5. New England Cottontail 10. Be Her Village. 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. The eastern cottontail has four pairs of mammary glands. 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. The female lines the nest with several layers of fur, grass, leaves, rabbit droppings, and perhaps a bit of paper or other trash. The gestation period occurs for less than 30 days. Subscribe to our e-news for the latest events, updates and info. Behavior and Feeding. Cottontails will eat any vegetation from grass to bark, twigs, and buds. As with the vast majority of animals, behavior varies from species to species. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College. Temperament/Behavior. It may use the dens of groundhogsas a temporary home or during heavy … It spends the hottest part of the day under cover. Litters average five young (rarely as many as eight), and the female is usually receptive to mating soon after giving birth. Some species are quite territorial, or the groups defend their territories together. Some of the sub-species that fall under the cottontail breed are: 1. Both male and female perform dance. Nearly half the young die within a month of birth, chiefly because cottontails are important links in many food chains. Both species breed in a variety of human-populous habitats, including farmland, suburban yards, and even in isolated, weedy patches in the city. Mountain Cottontail 8. One doe may produce three litters in a New England season. Dice’s Cottontail 4. The sleeping patterns of wild rabbits differs somewhat from their domestic cousins, especially in the summer months. 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. 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. The spring molt, lasting from mid-April to mid-July, leaves a short summer coat that is more brown. They emerge during the day, when fewer predators are around, to search for food. Cottontail rabbits eat a wide variety of plant foods including grasses, sedges, sprouts, leaves, fruits, buds, and bark. Cottontail rabbits are almost completely mute animals. Coprophagy, or the ingestion of feces, plays a role in rabbit nutrition. She might seek a site with brushy cover, but it’s not unusual to find a nest in the middle of a suburban lawn. Eastern Cottontail 7. Cottontails are solitary creatures, active mostly between dusk and dawn. 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.. Add Comment. Do NOT bring orphaned or injured wildlife to Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries. August 27, 2020. This rabbit undergoes two molts per year. Sexually promiscuous and forming no lasting pair bond, Massachusetts cottontails may mate as early as mid-February and as late as September. They avoid predation with speed and caution. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. Due to their size and inability to defend themselves, many young rabbits are taken by prey when they are mere months old. When caught by a predator, they can produce a bloodcurdling scream. This parental schedule explains why human observers often assume that rabbit nests have been abandoned. We see cottontail rabbits in our yards, parks, gardens and fields, so let's learn a little bit more about these adorable creatures. Its feeding behavior is somewhat different from other cottontails; it has a unique capability of jumping up on the trees to have its diet. Swamp Rabbit 2. Our guy here, the eastern cottontail, is more likely … 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. Mothers dig a nursery burrowto contain a nest before they give birth. It will be directed not only to each other, but also at their favorite people. The desert cottontail is most active in the early morning and in the evening. 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 can leap distances of between 10 and 15 feet. THE COTTONTAIL AND THE SWAMP RABBIT A>arsden and Holler 7 Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife ), Bill T. Crawford, Kenneth C. Sadler, Clif- Which of the Five Senses Do Rabbits Depend on the Most? Day to Day. Newborn cottontails are two inches long, weigh less than one ounce, and are naked, blind, and deaf—therefore totally helpless. Their best method of defense is their ability to remain unseen. It’s so un… © 2020 WILD SKY MEDIA. The latter was introduced into the state before 1900 and is now the most common rabbit in Massachusetts. It also allows them to stay cool in hot climates. Cottontails are solitary creatures, active mostly between dusk and dawn. 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. Breeding occurs year-round but peaks December through June. Tres Marias Cottontail Out of these the Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus) is the largest and the B… Oat straw and alfalfa hay are used in the nest as additional food sour… 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. Forests, swamps, thickets, bushes, or open areas where shelter is close by are optimal habitation sites for this species. Massachusetts is home to two species of rabbit, the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) and the eastern cottontail (S. floridanus). The Eastern Cottontail has many enemies to worry about - foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, cats, dogs, weasels and snakes. Their mating behavior is interesting. This re-digestion of food may be important for the survival of an herbivore that often interrupts its feeding to flee a predator. Differences Between Cottontail Rabbits and Snowshoe Hares. It is hard to confuse it with purring even though it is made the same way. If appearance alone doesn’t clear up any doubt, behavior will seal the deal. Cottontail rabbit hunting is a simple proposition on paper. Blue Eastern Cottontail Pee next to Rabbit Scat: 4. She lines the depression with grass and fur from her body, then adds a covering of twigs and leaves. Sometimes the desert cottontail climbs sloping trees and tree stumps to sit and keep watch for predators and other dangers. Cottontail rabbits are wild rabbits found all over North and South America. Cottontails do not dig burrows, but rather rest in a form, a shallow, scratched-out depression in a clump of grass or under brush. 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. 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. During the summer months, cottontails primarily eat grasses, legumes, succulent annuals, weeds, as well as the occasional garden vegetable. The eastern cottontail rabbit is one of the most common mammals of both the natural and the human generated ecosystems of North America. Eastern cottontail usually mates during February and September. They are super speedy and almost impossible to catch without a trap. There are at least 16 sub-species that fall under the main cottontail species. Many rabbits, cottontails included, are quite social, but this is not true of all species. There are several species of cottontail rabbit, but the eastern cottontail is the most common. The repeated passage through the rabbit’s gut allows time for bacterial digestion to continue, and more nutrients become available for absorption. captive male cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus ). The average lifespan of a cottontail rabbit is two years if it can reach the age of adulthood. 1. These grassy, leafy spaces are excellent for the cottontail's diet, which consists mainly of grass and herbs. “If a person does manage to catch one, they will often fight, twist, and kick repeatedly in an effort to get free. Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. 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. Generally silent, rabbits may communicate by soft grunts and purrs and by thumping the ground with the hind feet. Rabbits also leave pea-sized, light-brown droppings scattered around the area. March Rabbit 3. Except for the rust colored nape, the upper parts of the body and chest are pinkish or reddish to grayish brown sprinkled with black. Wild cottontails have a life expectancy of less than two years. 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. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. 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. Generally silent, rabbits may communicate by soft grunts and purrs and by thumping the ground with the hind feet. When fleeing from a predator, cottontail rabbits use a zigzag running pattern and can reach speeds of up to 18 miles an hour. A young rabbit won’t reach full size for about four months. 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. To try and stay alive, cottontail rabbits learn early on how to hide and burrow effectively -- under bushes, in tunnels or any cavities. Mountain Cottontail rabbit feeding behavior. Another interesting fact is that cottontail rabbits tend to have a quite small home range. Behavior Cottontail rabbits are hunted by many predators, so they only live two to three years in the wild. Before giving birth, a mother cottontail makes a nest by digging a depression in the ground about 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep. The oldest complete rabbit fossil, found in 2008 in India, dates back 53 million years to the Eocene Epoch. 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. Fast on their feet They communicate with each other by thumping with their back feet against the ground. The cottontail prefers an area where it can hide quickly but be out in the open. The Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni) is the most abundant and well known of the desert mammals. Foxes, weasels, raccoons, minks, snakes, crows, and several common species of hawks and owls, are all at least partially dependent on cottontails for food. 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) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. However, they have been known for screaming and screeching quite loudly if caught by a predator. Eastern Cottontail Reproduction. Males fight with one another. In the vegetable garden, their favorites include lettuce, beans, and beets, and they also enjoy strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Donations to Mass Audubon are tax-deductible to the full extent provided by law. Learn More about what you can do if you have rabbits in your garden or nests in your yard. The burrows are short, shallow tunnels averaging 23 cm (9.1 in) long that end in a chamber about 17 cm (6.7 in) below the surface. According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, most rabbits live in an area that's about 9 acres in size. Appalachian Cottontail 9. Teeth grinding: The sound of a rabbit grinding its teeth is nearly unmistakable. PART OF WILD SKY MEDIA | FAMILY & PARENTING, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Cottontail Rabbits, How to Make the Ultimate Obstacle Course for Rabbits. This stretched-out length allows them to better hear predators that may be approaching. How Deep in the Ground Can Yellow Jackets Be Found. Eastern Cottontail Rabbit. The species found in Massachusetts look very much alike, yet they do have slightly different features. 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. This is true regardless of the color of the rabbit, which can vary from gray to reddish brown, according to National Geographic. Rabbits can be very crafty and quick. Mutual grooming is definitely part of rabbit behavior that indicates a bond, regardless of whether the rabbits are neutered/spayed. The desert cottontail can also swim and runs at speeds of up to fifteen miles an hour. Behavior: Marsh rabbits eat a variety of plants found in and around wetlands. 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. Sometimes it will rest in the burrow of another animal. In the United States, cottontail rabbits reside all over the country, both in colder and warmer climates. 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. The Mexican cottontail's breeding season occurs throughout the year, but especially during the warm and wet summer months (March to October). Nests are constructed of several materials including dry grasses, pine needles, and bits of woody plants. In 2011 a gigantic fossil was unearthed on the small island Mallorca, off the coast of Spain. 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) Mexican Cottontail 6. The desert cottontail does not build its own den, although it may scratch a depression under a bush or other vegetation. Outdoor cottontail rabbits are extremely skittish and won’t willingly approach you. Eastern cottontails do not hibernate, but are active year-round. The native wild New England cottontail, probably as a consequence of this competition, has become rare throughout the region. From mid-September to the end of October, the change to longer, grayer pelage occurs for winter. Desert Cottontail. 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. Once establised, the hierarchy was continuously reinforced by the dominant animal. The eastern cottontail is a typical rabbit with long ears and hind legs. Shape The World. 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. The winter diet includes small grains, as well as twigs, bark, and buds of shrubs and trees. Read More. It also has distinctive large eyes for its size. Many species also live in underground tunnels to hide from predators. This behavior is very common among free-roaming rabbits who want to inform others of a potential attack. They don’t like to be socialized much; rather, they are conservative. Nests are built at night, in brush … 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. Behavior. It spends most of … 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. How Do Cottontail Rabbits Build Nests for Giving Birth? Cottontail rabbit kids arrive approximately 28 days after the parents mate. ... 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. 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