The Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is a New World cottontail rabbit, a member of the family Leporidae. It is one of the most common rabbit species in North America. he Eastern Cottontail is chunky red-brown or gray-brown in appearance with large hind feet, long ears and a short fluffy white tail. Its underside fur is white. There is a rusty patch on the tail. Its appearance differs from that of a hare in that it has a brownish-gray coloring around the head and neck. The body is lighter color with a white underside on the tail. It has large brown eyes and large ears to see and listen for danger. In winter the cottontail's pelage is more gray than brown. The kittens develop the same coloring after a few weeks, but they also have a white blaze that goes down their forehead; this marking eventually disappears. The average adult weighs about 1.1 to 1.8 kg (2 to 4 lbs); however the female tends to be heavier.
Ten Facts about Eastern Cottontail
- The eastern cottontail has speckled brown-gray fur above, reddish-brown fur around its neck and shoulders and lighter fur around its nose and on its undersides. It has big eyes and a tail that is puffy white on the underside. In the winter its fur may be more gray than brown.
- The eastern cottontail can be found in most of the eastern United States except for New England. It has been introduced to parts of southern New England. It is also found in parts of New Mexico and Arizona.
- The eastern cottontail prefers habitats that are between woody areas and open land. It can be found in bushy areas, fields, woodlands, swamps and thickets.
- The eastern cottontail is an herbivore. It eats a variety of different plants including grasses, clover, fruits and vegetables. In the winter it eats the woody parts of plants like the twigs and the bark of brambles, birch, oak, dogwood and maple trees.
- During mating season, males often fight with each other. The male and female also perform a kind of mating "dance".
- The eastern cottontail mates between February and September.
- The female gives birth about a month after mating. She has between one to nine babies, although she usually will have four to five young.
- She can mate again soon after the kits are weaned, gestation is about 28 days.
- The eastern cottontail can leap distances of between 10 and 15 feet. It can run at speeds of up to 15 miles an hour.
- The average life span of an eastern cottontail in the wild is usually less than three years.