Cottontail Rabbits -- Who's In the Backyard? Series

I haven't done a Who's In The Backyard? Post in awhile. I had planned on doing my rabbits weeks ago but was having internet issues as well as a busy life. So here it finally is!! In our backyard we have cottontails. They are probably Eastern Cottontails, but there is a slight chance they could be New England Cottontails. So my focus is going to be on both species and the differences. 

A baby rabbit is called a kit (short for kitten). Adult females are referred to does and males are referred to as a buck. Kits are born blind with a fine covering of fur. Their eyes open in about 4-7 days after birth and by 12-16 days they begin to take short trips out of the nest. By 4-5 weeks they are weaned and independent and by 7 weeks they have left the nest to start their own lives. Male rabbits are sexually mature by 1 month and females by 4 months. A female can produce a liter of kits every 30 days. The mother is fertile again within 24 hours of giving birth. So this is where the saying, "multiplying like rabbits" comes from! They can reproduce so easily and often! And of course the famous mathematics rabbit problem!

We had loads of cottontails in our yard in the spring. These two seemed to stay extra long this year and were often chasing one another. I believe it is a parent and child.

Fun Facts about Cottontails

  1. Eastern cottontails can have 7-8 liters a year. Usually 3-4 are successful and consist of 3-8 rabbits.
  2. Eastern cottontails poop twice. The first is a soft and green. They re-eat it so they can digest it better. The second is small and hard and is only waste. This is what we find in our yards. Sometimes their pee turns blue when exposed to sunlight.
  3. Cottontails usually freeze when in danger and then run as a last resort. When they run, they run fast. They runaway usually in a zig zag pattern.

  4. Eastern cottontails have almost 360-degree vision. Their eyes protrude a bit from their heads. The Eastern cottontails’ eyes are 1.5 times the size of the New England Cottontails’.

  5. Rabbits twitch their nose to smell. They have 100 million scent receptors in their nose and the twitching helps expose all of them.
  6. Their teeth never stop growing. The tough grass they eat helps wear down the teeth so they don’t get too long.
  7. Rabbits make a purring noise by grinding their teeth. It is a sign of happiness. They can make other vocalizations as well but often don’t so their predators don’t find them.
  8. Rabbits have 17,000 taste buds on average (humans have 2,000-8,000) so they can taste a larger array of flavors. Eastern cottontails feed on buds, clover, grasses, dandelion heads, flower blossoms, legumes, lettuce and even fruit or whatever is yummy in your garden or yard. I Ours have been seen eating the sunflower seeds near the feeder. In the winter they often eat bark, twigs, and buds.
  9. They are most active at dawn and dusk to avoid their predators. During the day they often hide in the vegetation.
  10. The Eastern Cottontail is the most common species of Cottontail Rabbits.
  11. Eastern cottontails were brought to New England from the Midwest. They are known to live on the edges of more open fields and grasslands as well as yards. New England Cottontails are primarily forest creatures and depend on areas of thick shrubs to hide.
  12. The New England Cottontail has a darker back than the Eastern Cottontail. The New England Cottontail also has a broad black stripe on the outer edge of the ear and usually a black spot between the ears. The Eastern Cottontail has a slightly paler coat, a cinnamon-rust nape and a narrow black margin extending along the front edge and tip of the ear. It sports a white or light brown spot on its forehead. For the most part they are impossible to tell apart by sight.



Craft & Activity Round-Up

I asked some fellow bloggers for their rabbit crafts and activities. Here is what they shared. I broke it into three groups. The first is more crafts for older kids or adults to make for younger kids. The second are crafts and activities for younger kids. The third is a mixture of crafts and activities that younger and older kids may enjoy.
2) Marshmallow Rabbit Treats from Eats Amazing
8) Knitted White Rabbit to go with book activities

1) Paper Plate Rabbit Craft from Crafts by Amanda
2) Paper Plate Rabbit Craft from Simple Everyday Mom
3) Jumping Bunny Cup Activity from Mom Brite
5) Bunny Paintings from The Natural Homeschool
6) Eraser Stamped Bunnies from Mama Smiles
8) Tangram Bunny Crafts from The Preschool Toolbox
12) Cotton Ball Bunny from Mama Smiles
13) Color by Number Rabbit Picture from Growing Play
15) Help the Bunny Plant Carrots Math Game from The Preschool Toolbox
16) Hop the Alphabet Game from Mama Smiles

1) Bunny Origami Corner Bookmark from The Gingerbread House
2) Paper Roll Bunnies from The Craft Train
3) Handprint Bunnies from Simple Everyday Mom
4) Rabbit Snack Cups from Eats Amazing
5) Toilet Paper Roll Bunnies from Nurture Store
6) Hopping Bunny Line Tracing from Planes and Balloons
7) Easter Bunny Lunchbox Notes from Eats Amazing (some are Easter themed but most are rabbit themed)

Finally I did a small round-up of books to teach children about rabbits and cottontails. Most of this are nonfiction but there are so many fiction ones out there!

This will the last of our Who's In the Backyard? Posts for now. I may start again in the spring! Have you enjoyed them?