eastern cottontail

(Sylvilagus floridanus)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

eastern cottontail

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Habitat

Farmlands, old fields, pastures, hedgerows, orchards, brushy clearings, open woods, wooded thickets, edges of woodlands, suburban areas with adequate cover

Lifespan

3 to 5 years

 
Size

Total length: 16 to 19

Tail: 1¼ to 2½

 

Identification

This is the smallest of Minnesota’s Leporidae, weighing 2 to 4 pounds at maturity.

Mearns’s cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is rusty-brown in color.

Nebraska cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus similis) is gray.

 
Sign  
 
Similar
Species

Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), found in northern Minnesota, is slightly larger than the eastern cottontail. It is uniformly dark brown in the summer and turns white in the winter.

White-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) is much larger, weighing 5¾ to 9½ pounds at maturity. It turns white in the winter.


Food

In the spring, summer, and fall, the eastern cottontail feeds on a wide variety of plant matter, including grasses (about half of it’s diet), clover, wild strawberry, cultivated and wild flowers, and many types of cultivated crops.

During the winter months they feed on twigs, bark and buds of oak, dogwood, sumac, maple and birch. They may girdle fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.

 
Life Cycle

 

 
Behavior

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 13, 15, 24, 29.

Mearns’s cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus mearnsi) is found throughout the state except for the northeast corner and the western portion of the northwestern counties.

Nebraska cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus similis) range extends into Minnesota only in the western portion of the northwestern counties.


Comments

Habitat
The eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is found in a wider variety of habitats than any other cottontail (Sylvilagus) species. Any habitat that includes well-distributed, dense shrubs for escape cover interspersed with open, grassy areas is ideal for this species.


Taxonomy

Order:

Lagomorpha (hares, pikas, and rabbits)

 

Family:

Leporidae (rabbits and hares)

 

Subfamily:

Leporinae

 

Genus:

Sylvilagus

 

Subgenus:

Sylvilagus

 
Subordinate Taxa

allied cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus simplicicanus)

Alta Mira cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus connectens)

Aves Island cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus avius)

black-naped rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus continentis)

Bonda cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus superciliaris)

Chiapas cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus chiapensis)

Cucuma cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus cumanicus)

Curaçao cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus nigronuchalis)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus boylei)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus costaricensis)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus durangae)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus hesperius)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus llanensis)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus macrocorpus)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus mallurus)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus nelsoni)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus paulsoni)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus purgatus)

eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus rigidus)

Florida cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus floridanus)

hoary-rumped cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus caniclunis)

Holzner cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus holzneri)

Honduras cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus hondurensis)

Margarita cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus margaritae)

Mearns’s cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus mearnsi)

Micco cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus ammophilus)

Michoacan cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus restrictus)

Michoacan cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus subcinctus)

Nebraska cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus similis)

Oklahoma cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus alacer)

Orinoco cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus orinoci)

Orizaba cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus orizabae)

Puebla cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus persultator)

russet cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus russatus)

Smiths Island cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus hitchensi)

Tehuantepec cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus aztecus)

Texas cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus chapmani)

Valencia Lake cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus valenciae)

Yucatan cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus yucatanicus)

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

eastern cottontail


 

 

 

 

 

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this mammal.

Wayne Rasmussen


  eastern cottontail   eastern gray squirrel

Bill Reynolds


  eastern cottontail    

       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Mearns’s cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus mearnsi)

  eastern cottontail   eastern cottontail
       

Mearns’s cottontail with Shope papilloma virus (SPV), also known as cottontail rabbit papilloma virus (CRPV)

  eastern cottontail    
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
Bill Keim
 
  Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)  
     
  Sylvilagus floridanus (Eastern Cottontail)
Allen Chartier
 
  Sylvilagus floridanus (Eastern Cottontail)  
     
  Eastern Cottontail
Dan Dzurisin
 
  Eastern Cottontail  
     
  Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Gerald (Wayne) Prout
 
  Eastern Cottontail Rabbit  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this mammal.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  Eastern CottonTail Rabbit Makes Nest
animecrash2
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 2, 2009

This is an Eastern Cottontail rabbit ripping up my lawn to make a nest in the backyard! So cute and such a busy worker! She obviously doesn't work for the state because there would have been 6 other rabbits sitting around watching her and drinking iced coffee.

 
     
  Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Leporidae: Sylvilagus floridanus)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Feb 18, 2013

An eastern cottontail rabbit forages for spilt seed beneath a bird feeder in the teeth of raging blizzard at Grand Forks, North Dakota (18 February 2013).

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this mammal.

Janet M Diehl
1/18/2018

Location: Episcopal Homes of MN at University W. & Fairview

I live at Episcopal Homes of MN at University W. & Fairview.  We have some resident wild rabbits which I think are Eastern Cottontail.  In the warmer months I often see them eating the clover and grass on the lawns by our buildings at dusk. 

I see them only on the inside of the connected complex of buildings – not on the lawns on the street sides of our buildings.  Nor do I see them in the small city park next to Episcopal Homes.  All this makes me think they are confined or trapped by our continuous buildings.   The only real exit is on to University.

My question is:  How do they survive in the winter?  I see them out occasionally at dusk in the snow or where the snow is pushed aside or bare spots under shrubs & trees, but even that doesn’t seen like enough to sustain them through the winter.  I found a dead bunny last spring next to our building by some shrubs. 

Is there any thing I can do to support their life?  Food?  Plants? Hay?  Shelter?  etc.  Things to avoid?  I have read quit a bit on line, but my questions are not answered.  Some parts of your website I could not open.

 
John Valo
1/19/2018

I have three eastern cottontails that live in or near my yard. They have a tough time finding enough food in the winter. I buy Purina Rabbit Chow from Fluegel's in Rosemount. Pet food stores should carry it also. If you want to feed your rabbits, you might put a half cup of it some place where

  1. they can find it;
  2. it will not be disturbed or covered with snow; and
  3. it is easy for you to get at every day.

For me, that place is by a basement exit under an outdoor, second floor deck. I make three small piles, well-spaced, a third cup each, so the three rabbits can all eat at the same time without fighting over the food.


Wayne Rasmussen
9/15/2015

Location: Maplewood Heights Park

eastern gray squirrel


Wayne Rasmussen
7/23/2006

Location: Pipestone National Monument

eastern cottontail

 
John Valo
6/20/2016

Note the gray fur color. This is a Nebraska cottontail (S. f. similis).


Bill Reynolds
8/18/2013

Location: Pennington Co.

eastern cottontail


     
     
 

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