There are sixteen species of Cottontail rabbits. The majority of
Cottontails have short, stub tails that are white on the bottom side. We
have "Rabbits" separated into three distinct groups:
Cottontails, Hares and Jackrabbits and Pikas.
The Desert Cottontail is found in Eastern Montana to Western Texas, west central Nevada to Southern California and in Northern Mexico.
It is identified by its large ears, rounded tail with white underneath, light grey to brown body, white belly and large hind feet.
The female Desert Cottontail is slightly larger than the male. Active in early morning and late afternoon, it eats grass and cacti and rarely needs to drink water, getting it from the plants they eat.
They get additional nutrition from eating their own feces just after consuming a meal.
The Eastern Cottontail is the most common rabbit in North America.
It is identified by its red brown or grey brown body color, large hind feet, long ears, white belly, short fluffy white tail and a rusty patch on its nape.
They are found in meadows and shrubby areas of eastern and southwestern United States, southern Canada, eastern Mexico and California.
The eastern cottontail eats green vegetation of grasses and clover in summer and bark and twigs in the winter.
Its predators are hawks, owls, and humans who hunt them for food and fur used for clothing.
Male and female eastern cottontails do a mating dance when preparing to mate.
Males will fight with other males for the female’s attention after which the male will chase the female for a while until she stops and faces him.
She then boxes him with her front paws until one or both jump straight up in the air.
The Swamp Rabbit is a large cottontail rabbit found in swamps and wetlands of the southern US.
Known as the largest member of the cottontails, they have brown body fur, a brown tail and weighs three to six pounds.
They also have a black spot between their ears.
Swamp Rabbits hide from natural enemies by sitting still in shallow water exposing only its nose to breathe.
They also hide in hollow logs and under thick brush. Predators include the American alligator,
foxes, coyotes, hawks and the great horned owl.
The Pygmy Rabbit is the smallest rabbit in North America, the smallest of the cottontail species, and the only cottontail that digs its own burrow. Found in parts of California, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Nevada, this species of rabbit is critically endangered in the state of Washington. Only weighing 1.1 pounds with a body length of 11.6 inches, the female pygmy rabbit is slightly larger than the male. Identified by its long ears, gray body color and large hind legs, the pygmy rabbit is unlike other rabbits because is has a lack of white fur on its tail. They have five toes on each foot and hairy cushions on the soles of their feet.
Adults breed from February to May with males chasing females. Adult females are very aggressive and protective of her young, fending off predators with her hind feet. Babies are born blind and with a little fur;
they are born in fur lined burrows in the ground. The young leave the nest after two to three weeks.
The Brush Rabbit, also known as the Western Brush Rabbit, is a cottontail found in western coastal regions of North America. Found in dense brushy cover and in oak and conifer forests, they use the burrow system to form runways through tall vegetation. They do not dig their own burrows, but use the discarded burrows of other species. Smaller than other cottontails, the brush rabbit has a brown-grey body color, white belly, and grey under its tail instead of white.
Adults mate February to August and have two to three litter a year. The babies are born blind, hairless and helpless. The female brush rabbit is very territorial around her young. They feed on grasses and clover as well as berries. Predators include cougars, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, weasels, raptors and snakes.