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Sylvilagus floridanus

Common Name: Eastern Cottontail
Sylvilagus floridanus
Sylvilagus floridanus

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus: Sylvilagus
Species: Sylvagus floridanus

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Speckled brown/gray fur, reddish fur around neck and light fur around the nose and underside, large erect ears, forward facing eyes, underside of fluffy tail is white.

Habitat & Range

Extreme southern Canada to South America, Easter U.S. and parts of New Mexico and Arizona. They prefer to live on the edge of the woods and open fields.


Eastern Cottontails are extremely territorial and solitary animals. To spot predators they will stand on their hind legs to get a better view. If being pursued by a predator, they can run up to 15 miles an hour and will zig zag back and forth to try and not leave a scent trail.

Life Cycle

Mating is between February and September. When finding a mate the male will chase down the female and they will bat at each other with their front paws and then jump high into the air together. The female will gestate for 27 days. She will build a nest in a depression in the ground and give birth to 1-9 babies, called kits. The kits, or kittens, eyes have not opened, are hairless and cannot regulate their own body heat. They are weaned after 3 weeks and leave the mother at 7 weeks. Only 25% will live past 2 years and the average life span is only 15 months.

Eastern Cottontail by Sage Ross
Eastern Cottontail by Sage Ross

See Me At Cayuga Nature Center


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