What’s In My Backyard?

Meet the Neighbors: Cottontail Rabbit

For the introduction to this series, see here.

Cottontail rabbits live all over the US. There are three species but they all look much the same. If you live in the east, you have Eastern cottontails living near you. If you live in the West, you probably have Mountain or Desert cottontails in your yard. In the middle of the country, you might have all three! These rabbits are good at surviving. Their big ears help them hear predators and their strong back feet help them escape quickly. They can run at 18 miles an hour over short distances! They also are well camouflaged and have an acute sense of smell. Rabbits have a completely vegetarian diet. Though a diet of greens may sound uninteresting, rabbits seem to enjoy it. A cottontail rabbit has 17,000 taste buds! Humans usually have between 2000 and 8000. So the rabbit’s dinner of greens probably tastes much better to a rabbit than it would to you. A female cottontail can produce from 1 to 7 litters of babies a year and the litters average 5 babies. So despite heavy predation by foxes, raccoons, coyotes, owls, and hawks, there will always be rabbits hopping around your yard. Go out and find some rabbits!

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