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Facts About Cottontail Rabbits

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Cottontail rabbits are wild rabbits found all over North and South America. In the United States, cottontail rabbits reside all over the country, both in colder and warmer climates. Although sometimes considered a pest by farmers, they are quite adaptable and will move on to live in a more suitable area if no food is available where they are.

What They Look Like

Cottontail rabbits are called that because the underside of their tails -- which curls up against the lower back -- is white, just like a small piece of cotton. This is true regardless of the color of the rabbit, which can vary from gray to reddish brown, according to National Geographic. Cottontail rabbits are tiny little things, ranging in size from 15.5 to 18.75 inches, and weighing as little as 28 ounces -- although boys can weigh as much as 54 ounces.


Cottontail rabbits are hunted by many predators, so they only live two to three years in the wild. To try and stay alive, cottontail rabbits learn early on how to hide and burrow effectively -- under bushes, in tunnels or any cavities. When fleeing from a predator, cottontail rabbits use a zigzag running pattern and can reach speeds of up to 18 miles an hour.

Where They Live

Because they live all over the continent, cottontail rabbits can be found anywhere from forests to open fields to grassy areas in general -- as long as there are enough shrubs for them to use as hiding spaces. These grassy, leafy spaces are excellent for the cottontail's diet, which consists mainly of grass and herbs.

The Unusual and Fun

Cottontail rabbits are almost completely mute animals. They communicate with each other by thumping with their back feet against the ground. However, they have been known for screaming and screeching quite loudly if caught by a predator. Another interesting fact is that cottontail rabbits tend to have a quite small home range. According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, most rabbits live in an area that's about 9 acres in size.