Eastern Cottontail Facts | Kidadl


Eastern Cottontail Facts

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One of the cutest rabbit species is considered the eastern cottontail rabbit (scientific name: Sylvilagus floridanus). These rabbits play a positive as well as a negative role in human life and in the environment. For instance, they are herbivores, which gives them the power to play an important part in maintaining the environmental food web. Another positive aspect of their herbivorous nature is that their meat proves to be one of the healthiest sources of protein for the human body. This is mainly because, in addition to their rich protein supply, they have very few calories and fats.

These animals are found in a few states in the U.S. and are usually seen living a solo life. This is mainly because they are solitary and, even if they are a little social, they soon tend to get irritated with their animal company. Hence, they live in a home range that makes them feel independent. The size of their home ranges depends on their location and the food they find.

To know more about the other species of animals check Arctic hare and mountain hare.

Eastern Cottontail Facts

What do they prey on?

Branches, twigs and stems

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

1.8-4.4 lb (0.8-2 kg)

How long are they?

14–19 in (36-48 cm)

How tall are they?

7-9 in (18-23 cm)

What do they look like?


Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Owls, Coyotes, Hawks, Red Foxes

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Swamps, Forests, Meadows, Shrubs, Farmlands, Open Lands


Northwestern South America









Eastern Cottontail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an eastern cottontail?

Eastern cottontail is an animal that belongs to the Leporidae family. This family focuses on 60 species of rabbits and hares living in the world.

What class of animal does an eastern cottontail belong to?

The eastern cottontail is included in the Mammalia class of animals.

How many eastern cottontails are there in the world?

There is no exact number of eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) living in the world today. Although, their population is said to be increasing by the day.

Where does an eastern cottontail live?

Many eastern cottontail rabbit facts make it clear that they live in abundance in northwestern South America. The eastern cottontail's habitat is favorable in the states of Quebec, south of Manitoba, and even the western great plains.

What is an eastern cottontail's habitat?

The eastern cottontail rabbit's habitat is tropical. They live in a burrowed nest that might be hidden in the wild forests, meadows, and swamps. Most eastern cottontail rabbits are even found living in the farmlands, shrubs, and open lands. They usually use an already burrowed nest, rather than digging their own nest.

Who do eastern cottontails live with?

The eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is known to be solitary in nature. Although there might be some exceptions, as sometimes the eastern bunny can be quite social, it soon becomes intolerable of its own species. A group of these rabbits is called a herd and their place of residence is known as a colony.

How long does an eastern cottontail live?

While living in the wild, the Eastern cottontail's lifespan can range from three to five years. The average is barely 15 months. Although when in captivity, where there are rarely any predators like hawks and owls, and where they are provided with a good diet, they might survive for up to nine long years.

How do they reproduce?

The start of these bunnies' mating process is quite active as the male follows the female everywhere, until the female stops and reciprocates. Once both of them face each other, they take turns jumping over each other and tend to create a bond before mating. This usually happens during the nighttime, as they are nocturnal in nature, until the pair mutually agrees to breed. Females are known to start their reproduction process, where they go through a gestation period of 25-35 days before giving birth to a litter of small babies. The female is known to take very little care of the litter and visits the nest only twice a day, mostly during the night to nurse her kits. Over a period of time, the offsprings start becoming intolerable to each other and leave the nest after 16-22 days.

This reproduction process takes place seven to eight times per year. And the females are known to give birth to an average of three to four litters per year with an average of five young ones in each. This is one of the reasons why this species' population status is considered to be increasing by the day.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has marked the Eastern cottontails' status as of Least Concern. Additionally, the rabbits' breeding population is steadily increasing.

Eastern Cottontail Fun Facts

What do eastern cottontails look like?

eastern cottontail rabbit reddish-brown color

These bunnies are easily recognizable with their long ears, big, brown, beady eyes, short, white, bushy tail, and big hindlegs. These rabbits have brown and gray hair with whitish underfur. Sometimes, they also have a reddish-brown color, which makes them look all the more bright and cute while hopping. These characteristics are quite similar for both males as well as females. The most interesting fact about these U.S.-based bunnies is that they have molts twice every year, which means that they get a new covering of fur according to their shedding period. For instance, during summers they have a dominant brown fur and the gray eastern cottontail color is predominant during the winter season.

How cute are they?

Even though the Eastern cottontail scientific name might sound like a complicated one, they truly are considered the cutest rabbits. This is mainly because of their long ears, snowy white-tail, and brown beady eyes.

How do they communicate?

This species of rabbits are known to be tactile and they use their knowledge of chemical changes in their surroundings to detect danger. They have good eyesight and listening skills, which help them to make as well as recognize different sounds when their litter is in danger or if there are any predators hovering around the nest.

How big is an eastern cottontail?

These U.S.-based rabbits are twice as big as the Netherland dwarf rabbits. The Eastern cottontail's size can be between 14–19 in (36-48 cm) in length. Their height ranges between 7-9 in (18-23 cm).

How fast can an eastern cottontail run?

The species is quite quick in its movement. The Eastern cottontail tracks around 18 mph (29 kph), especially when they have predators following them. They run in a zig-zag style to keep the predators at bay.

How much does an easternn cottontail weigh?

These rabbits have a weight ranging between 1.8-4.4 lb (0.8-2 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Females are typically called does, while males are typically called bucks.

What would you call a baby eastern cottontail?

As these easterncottontail babies are born in litters they are called kits.

What do they eat?

As they are herbivores, the eastern cottontail rabbit diet includes a proper source of nutrients and proteins. These are gained with a changing diet around the year, where the eastern cottontail's adaptations for food requirements are based on seasonal changes. During summer they feed on all kinds of grasses, fruits, and vegetables. Whereas, during winter, due to increased ground levels because of the snow, they find it easier to reach the branches of the trees. They feed on those branches, dry twigs, and most of the wood that can be edible.

Are they friendly?

These nocturnal creatures are usually scared of strangers and get irritated by their own kind. They don't approach individuals by themselves to make friendships.

Would they make a good pet?

These brown fur-covered rabbits are wild in nature. Although they might look cute because of their short fluffy white tail, they are not domesticated and would not make a good pet, as they like to roam in open lands and are highly active during night and dusk hours.

Did you know...

There are around 20 different species of cottontail rabbit, out of which the eastern cottontail belongs to the Sylvilagus genus. This is probably the reason why you might come across different trends comparing the breeds with each other. For example, the terms like New England cottontail vs. eastern cottontail, or Appalachian cottontail vs. eastern cottontail are a few comparisons done because both these species belong to the Sylvilagus genus and have many similarities like their brown fur, ears, and tail.

They have a blue-colored pee and they poop twice in one go. The first time they poop, they eat up the unchewed greens from their poop to consume all the nutrients perfectly and then poop again the second time to release all the waste from their body.

How many offspring could a single pair of eastern cottontails produce?

As the species' breeding season takes place around three to eight times per year, a single pair of these eastern cottontails has a strong reproduction cycle. It is observed that around 350,000 young are born from just one pair of buck and doe over a span of five years breeding period.

How do eastern cottontails hide their nests?

Eastern cottontails do not usually dig their own nests. Rather, they prefer sliding into some other vacant animal burrow. They follow a simple out-in-the-open way of hiding their nest. Yes, these U.S.-based eastern cottontail nests can be seen in open areas or even in the middle of a big yard or a lawn. The reason they remain hidden in the open, is that their nest look nothing more than dried grass piled up in a small stack from above.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including brown hare, or snowshoe hare.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Eastern Cottontail coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

Moumita is a multilingual content writer and editor. She has a PostGraduate Diploma in sports management, which enhanced her sports journalism skills, as well as a degree in journalism and mass communication. She's good at writing about sports and sporting heroes. Moumita has worked with many soccer teams and produced match reports, and sports is her primary passion.

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