Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here comes Peter Cottontail...

Everyone seems to know that our common wild rabbits are also called cottontails. The most common cottontail in our area is known as the eastern cottontail. The original rabbits in our area were the now very rare New England cottontails which have suffered habitat loss and competition from the introduced eastern cottontail.
Rabbits are not rodents, contrary to popular belief, but belong to a group called lagomorphs. They have the unusual habit, necessary to their survival, of eating their food, partially digesting it, pooping it out and eating it again to fully digest it. This separates them from other mammals that seem similar. Seems a little strange to us but for the rabbits it is perfectly normal. They eat mostly grass and flowers so their scat is a little different and much less off putting than that of a carnivore or even an omnivore.
This little guy is showing his white tail, the reason it is called a cottontail. As you probably know, rabbits tend to be more or less silent unless mortally afraid. They warn of danger by stamping their big back feet and flashing that white tail as they run to avoid and escape their predators.

Wild rabbits don't live very long, being a favored prey of many mammals and birds. This is probably one reason they are so famous for their reproductive abilities.

Mass Audubon has done a great job of putting together more information about the eastern cottontail rabbit and you can read it by clicking on the link.

1 comment:

  1. interesting information about these cute little guys.