Cottontail Rabbit

photo by Andrew McKinlay CC BY-NC

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Nuttall's Cottontail, Mountain Cottontail

Cottontail Rabbits have a small (14-19 in) brownish-gray body with a white tail resembling a ball of cotton and long ears. They have rusty-red patches between the ears and shoulders. Their winter coat is thicker and grayer than their summer coat.

Cottontail Rabbits can be found in open areas surrounded by shrubs and tall grass where they can hide from predators. They come out in the evening to eat grass and plants as well as bark and twigs in winter.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbits are native to eastern and central North America. Nuttall’s or Mountain Cottontails are found at higher elevations in southern Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia as well as the northwestern United States. They are slightly smaller and lighter than the Eastern Cottontails.

Female Cottontail Rabbits give birth in shallow ground nests to 6-8 tiny, helpless young up to 4 times a year. The young rabbits mature quickly and are full-grown in 4-5 weeks.

Could it be? Cottontail Rabbits are smaller than hares, such as White-tailed Jackrabbits and Snowshoe Hares. They also have smaller ears and a ball-like tail. Baby rabbits have no fur and their eyes are closed when they’re born, whereas baby hares are born with fur and their eyes are open.

Did you know? Cottontail Rabbits escape from prey by running in a zigzag pattern at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.

See Also: Snowshoe Hare, White-tailed Jackrabbit