Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail
(Sylvilagus Floridanus)

Quick Facts

Eastern Cottontails live throughout most of North America.

Rabbits get most of their moisture from lapping the dew off the leaves of plants.

A single pair of rabbits could produce 350,000 rabbits in five years!

Cottontail jumping over fence

Cottontails often stand on their hind legs to view their surroundings.

Cottontails usually hop, but they can leap 3 to 4 metres (10 to 15 ft.)

Cottontails do not like to get wet, but they will swim if they absolutely have to.

Eastern cottontails are the most common rabbits in North America.   Their coats are greyish-brown with a little black here and there.  They usually have a white spot on their foreheads and their feet are also white.  Their name comes from theCottontails fluffy tail that resembles a puff of white cotton.  Full-grown cottontails are about the size of an average cat, and they weigh between 900 and 1800 grams (2 to 4 pounds). 

Cottontails can be found almost anywhere.  They like fields, woods and farmlands but especially like to live in areas where there are thickets and brush piles for shelter and places to hide. 


Rabbits are herbivores (HERB-i-vorz) and eat many types of green vegetation.  They enjoy grasses, clover, weeds, bulbs, leaves and twigs.


Cottontails do not live in groups.  Males and females get together just long Cottontailenough to mate and then go their separate ways.  Females and young share territory only until the young are independent.


On midwinter nights, people have seen groups of cottontails frolicking on crusted snow.  These playful gatherings are believed to provide release after periods of forced inactivity.


When pursued by a predator, cottontails circle their territory and jump sideways to break their scent trail.


[ more on Eastern Cottontails]

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Cottontails: Prepared for IWRC by:

Pat Isaacs, South Carolina, USA
Astrid MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada

Photos by:

Jim Isaacs, South Carolina, USA
Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada