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

Photo by Wayne Rasmussen
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    

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

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