Rabbits,beginning with Cottontail
Most rabbits are cottontails, most of which have tails that are brown above and white below, resembling a cotton ball. Native to North and South America, cottontails frequent a wide variety of habitats, but all species need cover, usually low vegetation. Only the pygmy is definitely known to construct its own burrow. Rabbits may sit almost perfectly still and quiet for extremely long periods of time, even when closely approached.
The eastern cottontail has by far the greatest range. The smallest cottontail is the pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis), the largest the swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus). Swamp rabbit females are about the same size as males.
Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) This species is ranges from southern Manitoba & Quebec through eastern United States into northern South America (Venezuela) and has been widely introduced, including the Pacific Northwest. The eastern cottonail inhabits a tremendous variety of habitats, including tropical, temperate hardwood, and boreal (northern) forests, grasslands, swamps, deserts, fields, and farms.
|Western Cottontails||More Eastern Cottontails|
•pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) This species occurs in the Columbia Plateau & Great Basin regions of the western U.S., where it is closely associated with sagebrush.
•(Sylvilagus nuttallii) This species frequents dry bushy or rocky areas from southwestern Canada south through the western U.S.
|•New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) This species is found mainly in dense forests from the northeastern U.S. south through the Appalachians to northern Alabama.
•marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris) This species frequents marshes from southeastern Virginia to southern Alabama & Florida. It usually walks instead of hopping and swims extensively. A Florida subspecies known as the Lower Keys rabbit bears the scientific name Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, in honor of the man who made the Playboy bunny famous!
•swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus) The swamp rabbit occupies swamps and lowlands near water in the south-central United Stat
(None of the rabbits below are cottontails.)
Volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) This is the only New World “bunny” that is neither a cottontail nor a hare. With no visible tail and short ears and legs, the volcano rabbit resembles a pika. Boasting perhaps the most limited range of any Mexican land mammal, its range centers on rocky, mountainous areas around the volcanoes Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl. Moreover, it’s found only in open pine forests undergrown with a heavy ground cover of certain grasses, usually between about 9,000-10,500 feet. Now that’s a particular bunny; no wonder it’s endangered!
Hares (including Jackrabbits)
Hares, which include jackrabbits, have especially long ears and large hind feet. Their feet are well furred. The upper body is usually brown or grayish brown, while the under parts are lighter colored, even white. Most species have black ear tips. In some species, the upper side of the tail is also black. Slender-bodied jack rabbits make long, high leaps.
But most hares live in open country, including northern tundra (arctic hare and tundra hare) or grasslands and deserts (jackrabbits). The blue, or mountain hare inhabits either coniferous forest or tundra, and the European, or brown hare occupies either open country or forest.
|Eurasian Hares||North American Hares|
|•blue or mountain hare (Lepus timidus) Eurasian tundra & boreal forest, European Alps, Ireland & Scotland, Sakhalin & Hokkaido, Japan
•European hare, brown hare (Lepus capensis)
North America & Eurasia south of the boreal forest except northeastern China and Japan, nonforested parts of Africa
•(Lepus castroviejoi) [range includes northern Spain]
•Italian hare (Lepus corsicanus)
•(Lepus europaeus) [range includes Turkey]
•Manchurian hare (Lepus mandshuricus) lower Amur region of extreme southeastern Siberia, Manchuria, North Korea
•Chinese hare (Lepus sinensis) Korea, eastern China, Taiwan
•(Lepus tolai)northeastern China?
•Yarkand hare (Lepus yarkandensis) southwestern Sinkiang
•Japanese hare (Lepus brachyurus) Japan
•woolly hare (Lepus oiostolus) Tibet & adjacent highlands
•(Lepus nigricollis) India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Sri Lanka
•(Lepus pequensis [perquensis?]) Burma, Thailand, Indochina, Hainan
|•arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) Canadian tundra, Newfoundland, Greenland
•Alaska hare, tundra hare (Lepus othus) northern & western Alaska
•snowshoe or varying hare (Lepus americanus) Alaska, Canada, and northern and mountainous regions of the lower 48 states Unlike most hares, it inhabits forests.
•white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) south-central British Columbia & east-central California to central Manitoba and northern Missouri
•black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) central & western U.S., northern Mexico, Baja California
•antelope jackrabbit (Lepus alleni) southern Arizona, northwestern Mexico
•white-sided jackrabbit (Lepus callotis) extreme southwestern New Mexico, parts of northwestern and cental Mexico
•(Lepus insularis) Espiritu Santo Island off southeastern Baja California
•(Lepus flavigularis) extreme southern Mexico
One African Hare & Several Species I'm not Sure About!
•(Lepus saxatilis) mountains of southern South Africa