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Cottontail Rabbits

The cottontail rabbit is a long-eared, medium sized mammalcommon throughout the Eastern United States, and it is a resident of the Laurel Lake area. These rabbits are members of the Leporidae family. Theyare called cottontails due to the white fuzzy hair located on the bottomof their tails.

The cottontail prefers a habitat of thickets, briars, down-timber, weededfields, and swamps.The feeding areas for these mammals seldom extend beyond goodground cover. Cottontails rarely dig dens and their foodgathering range will extend to 20 acres. A cottontail hardly ever leaves thisterritory because it knows where it has escape routes and food supplies.

Cottontails have a keen sense of smell and hearing. Its eyes are set back onits head to allow for a wide field of vision.

In summer, the cottontail's diet includes fallen fruit,leaves, herbs, and grass. In winter, the cottontail will eat branches and poison ivy vines.

Cottontails can swim and run in a random pattern when chased by a predator.

Cottontails breed often. The average female will produce up to four litters peryear. Litters range from 2 to 9 and arrive following a 28 day gestation period.The young are born blind, hairless, and unable to fend for themselves. The young developrapidly and are able to be on their own after only 16 days. Very few cottontailslive beyond one year of age in the wild due to predators although their lifespan extends to 3 or 4 years.