Wild Rabbits also known as Eastern cottontail (sylvilages floridanus)


 Adored by some, unwanted by others…


The cottontaiI is the most common rabbit species in North America. It is abundant in Midwest North America and so- called due to their little white tail.


Habitat and behaviour

The cottontail is found in shrubby, grassy areas, old clearings, with dense shrubby edges, for nesting, escape and resting cover.

Females home range is up to 2 acres and the male’s up to 40 acres during the breeding season.

Males are very territorial and will fight to establish mating priority and dominance. These rabbits do not dig burrows but use other unused animal burrows.  The female scratches a shallow depression for a nest under shrubs which she lines with grasses and fur from her underbelly. This nest is called a ‘form’.

When chased these mammals will run in zig zag pattern to avoid or confuse their predators. Their running speed has been measured at up to 18 miles per hour!

Cottontails are ‘crepuscular’, which means they hunt by day and night, just like our domesticated cat, deer and barn and barred owls. Cottontails are active throughout the year.


Reproduction and longevity


Temperature and availability of food are a primary factor in controlling the onset of breeding. Gestation is usually 28 days. The bunnies are born with fine fuzz and are blind and helpless and will be completely independent in 5 weeks. The Parent will leave nest and will return twice a day (to avoid drawing attention to predators) to nurse her brood.

Males are sexually reproductive by 5 weeks and females reach reproductive maturity at 2 1/2 months of age. In BC cottontails have 3 to 4 litters a year.

Average lifespan is 15 months in the wild.

Cottontails are hosts to fleas, ticks, lice, internal worms, fly larvae and more diseases.

Rabbits have almost 360-degree vision since their eyes are slightly protruded on their heads, and they have a blind-spot straight in front of them of 10 degrees.



Major predators are foxes, coyotes, barred and great horned owls, dogs, cats, hawks, and crows. Nests are often raided by raccoons, skunks, badgers, and opossums.



These rabbits eat a varied diet of bark, twigs ( blueberry bushes), leaves, fruit, new leaf buds ( hosta), flowers (primulas),, grass seeds and they love young oak trees.

 They will re-digest their own fecal pellets to gain nutrients.


The only way to avoid having these mammals wreak havoc in your garden beds is to fence your yard with ( fine) wire or wood fencing, closing gaps with  chickenwire or wrap your most prized plants or trees individually with chickenwire of a minimum of 2 feet tall and supported with sticks to keep them in place.

 Rabbits do not like scented plants like lavender and marigolds! Go to town on these plants!


Never, never release pet rabbits in the woods, just because you see others foraging there. They will readily breed with wild rabbits only to increase the population even further!! Please find a new home or donate them to a local wildlife shelter near you.


Impress your friends.


Crepuscular= active day and night

Matutinal= hunt at dawn

Vespertine= active at dusk.  

Diurnal= busy during the day (we are)

Nocturnal= night owl (hunt at night)