Desert cottontail rabbit

Desert Cottontail Rabbit, USFWS photo by Gary Stolz

Photo credit (top), USFWS photo by Gary Stolz

This familiar-looking little rabbit (12-15" body, ears 3-4") is most active at night, but it may be seen during the day in higher elevations and during cool weather, feeding on fresh grass in early morning and evening. In winter when fresh vegetation is not available it may eat bark or agave leaves.

Desert cottontail rabbit

I have personally seen these little fellows gnawing with apparent relish on the tough leaves of the agave or century plant in winter, and in spring many of my younger agaves are found chewed right down to the ground.

Young cottontails are born blind and hairless and remain in the den during their youngest days, but soon they are hopping about on their own. Baby rabbits can be seen in Cochise county anytime between March and August. Parents appear to raise several litters throughout the warm weather. The coat of this desert variety of rabbit is lighter in color than that of cottontails of colder climates, but the fluffy white tail you glimpse as it hops off is just the same.

The photo at the top of this page is from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Image Library. You can download it and many other interesting animal photos at http://images.fws.gov/

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