Eastern Cottontail Rabbits

Rabbits

Overview

There are two species of cottontail found in New England. The Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) is more common and has been slowly displacing the native New England Cottontail Rabbit throughout its range. This rabbit is often seen in urban areas where it can thrive in open grassy areas with nearby shrubs for cover.

Identification

The rabbit is chunky red-brown or gray-brown with undersides white. It has large hind feet, long ears and a short fluffy white tail. The average weight is around 2.5 pounds.

Biology

The eastern cottontail has a home range slightly larger than one acre. This rabbit does not dig its own den but can use burrows dug by rodents and other animals. This animal is highly territorial and feeds at night or on foggy days. A single female cottontail can have as many as 35 young during a single year. They eat vegetation, bark, twigs, flowers, grass and leaves. This animal can be a host for fleas, ticks, lice and the disease tularemia. Common predators include dogs, cats, raccoon, hawks and owls.

Control

Under normal conditions the public does not want to kill cottontail rabbits. If you are concerned about your back yard garden consider screening out the rows of plantings.

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