Cottontails or wild rabbits consist of 30 recognized species. Of those 30, only 13 live in North and South America. Cottontails differ from hares and domestic rabbits in that they are weaned at two weeks and able to live on their own by four weeks. They build nests instead of digging burrows and take cover from their predators in brush. It is important to know the difference between a wild rabbit and a domestic rabbit, particularly if you happen upon orphaned bunnies in your yard. A wild rabbit is rarely orphaned, but left alone during the day so as not to attract predators during the day.
Look at the color of the rabbit. Most wild rabbits do not have the fluffy, black, gray or white fur of a domestic rabbit, but instead a grayish brown or tan flecked mixture of coarser hair. Adult wild rabbits will have no white color at all.
Determine its approximate weight. If you are trying to guess if a rabbit in your yard is wild, for example, it will weigh about 4 pounds as an adult. Domestic rabbits can weigh much more.
Approach the rabbit to see if it's afraid of you. If the rabbit lets you approach it, feed it or even pick it up, it is likely a domestic rabbit that has been "released." A wild rabbit will run away quickly.
Check the body type. A wild rabbit is slender through the legs and has a wedge-shaped head and slimmer ears.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.