Eye Help Animals, LLC ∫ Saving Wildlife Together - Saving the New England Cottontail Rabbit
 Saving Wildlife Together - Saving the New England Cottontail Rabbit

New England Cottontail Rabbit

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As recent as 1960, New England cottontail population has shrunk by 75 percent. Once found east of the Hudson River in New York, across all of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and north to southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and into southern Maine, it can no longer be found in Vermont and has been reduced to only five smaller populations throughout its historic range. The New England cottontail, which prefers thick, tangled vegetation called thickets, is finding this habitat more difficult to find. During colonial times much of the New England forest was cleared for agriculture and during the 1900s it was abandoned. This farmland grew into habitat that is preferred by the New England cottontails. Now these habitats are aging or being developed and are no longer suitable for the New England cottontail. Many white-tailed deer are found in the cottontail range. Deer eat many of the same plants that make up the diet of the New England cottontail. Also, introduction of exotic invasive and other non-native plants may not be provide the rabbits with the food resources of native plant species. Introduction of the eastern cottontail in the early 1900s may also affect the livelihood of the New England cottontail. The eastern cottontail is much more adept at detecting predators sooner so they are able to forage more safely in open areas. It also enables eastern cottontail rabbits to survive in more diverse habitats such as fields, farms, and forest edges. The eastern cottontail, which eats grass and leaves and bark, twigs, and seeds in winter months lives only 2-3 years in the wild since it is a favorite prey of hunters. A fertile female can produce three to four litters of nine young each year but, as many as 90 percent of the young may die. Although the young are born blind and naked, they reach sexual maturity in three to five months. Within hours after birth, the eastern cottontail doe mates again. (Thank you to US Fish and Wildlife Service for the special report on New England cottontail rabbits).

New England Cottontail Rabbit - Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore
Average lifespan in the wild: Less than 3 years
Size: 15.5 to 18.75 in (39.5 to 47.7 cm)
Weight: 28 to 54 oz (800 to 1533 g)
Status: ENDANGERED

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