Desert Cottontail

Scientific Name:

Sylvilagus audubonii

Type:

Mammal

Habitat:

Forest, shrubland, grassland, and desert

Range:

Southwestern and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States, Baja California, and central Mexico

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Desert cottontails are small rabbits that grow from 14 to 17 inches long and weigh between two and three pounds. Their coats are tan along the tops of their bodies, white underneath, and their collars can be rusty in color. In general, desert cottontails have shorter ears compared to those of jackrabbits.

Fast Facts:

  • During the hot summer months, desert cottontails conserve moisture and energy by resting in the shade of vegetation like large shrubs.

  • Desert cottontails are quick and agile. They are able to run up to 20 miles per hour and will move in a zigzag pattern to escape predators.

  • Desert cottontails are coprophagic, meaning they ingest their own droppings. While that may seem gross to us, 90% of their diet is grass, which is difficult to digest. Ingesting their food twice allows desert cottontails to get extra nutrients from their food.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Erica Derby (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

April 14, 2021, 9:30:01 PM