eastern cottontail

(Sylvilagus floridanus)

Conservation Status
eastern cottontail
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Eastern cottontail 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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total length: 16 to 19

Tail: 1¼ to 2½

 
     
 

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.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Eastern cottontail is found in a wider variety of habitats than any other cottontail species. Any habitat that includes well-distributed, dense shrubs for escape cover interspersed with open, grassy areas is ideal for this species. These include farmlands, old fields, pastures, hedgerows, orchards, brushy clearings, open woods, wooded thickets, edges of woodlands, and suburban areas with adequate cover.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

3 to 5 years

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

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.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 13, 15, 24, 29.

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

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

 
  5/9/2020    
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placentals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires  
  Clade Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Lagomorpha (hares, pikas, and rabbits)  
 

Family

Leporidae (rabbits and hares)  
 

Genus

Sylvilagus (cottontails)  
       
 

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
   

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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
       

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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
   

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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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