Friday, May 22, 2009

Cottontail Rabbit

Spring is here and the rabbits are breeding rabbits. I am seeing them on every trail, under every shrub in the neighborhood, and in the glazed eyes of my dog as it dreams on the couch. Cottontails (Sylvilagus sp.) give birth to two to six litters every year with five young'ens per litter. That is up to 30 new rabbits a year from every female. Thank goodness for carnivores!

It seems like everything preys upon the poor little rabbit including humans, which kill over 50,000 a year. For the Cottontail it seems, life is a continuous war zone. I was surprised to learn their life expectancy is only a year. No wonder they breed like crazy.

There are three species of Cottontail in Colorado and they are impossible to identify in the field. They live in the mountains, plains, and deserts.

These pictures were taken on the Bitterbrush Trail. This specimen was standing outside its burrow when a biker came up. He said he would distract it while I swooped in for a picture. It worked. Now, if I can only get my hiking partner to do the same thing with that Mountain Lion I have always wanted to capture on film.

Cottontails are herbivorous and eat a variety of grasses. They also love to munch on your just planted flowers, garden vegetables, or other important greens.


Lindy MacDuff said...

Our cottontails in Indiana are not supposed to like marigolds, but they sure like ours as it doesn't deter them from munching those or anything else in our garden!

Good luck with your mountain lion picture. I got a good chuckle out of that comment.

Linda said...

Very cute, until it got to the garden-munching bit!

Tina said...

A cute and informative post..I didn't know their life expectancy is only a year but I guess if everything preys on them that is to be expected!!
Cute little girl/guy tho!
Can't wait to see that mountain sure to get a shot of your partner distracting! good post!

Anonymous said...

That's so adorable! yes i decided to take up gardening, the flowers didn't even last one day. No matter how much fence i put around them my pet rabbits still managed to get in and eat them.But oh well, its hard to punish a twitching nose staring at you.

LONE WOLF said...

So THAT'S how I can get outta' trouble with Wifey, just twitch my nose a bit? L.o.L.!

sylvia murphy said...

A little cuteness goes a long way!