Best 10 Mountain Cottontail Rabbit Facts, Size, Behavior

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Mountain Cottontail Rabbit

Let’s talk about another cottontail rabbit, and its name is Mountain Cottontail, also named Nuttall’s cottontail. Being a mammal, it belongs to the family Leporidae and is found in Canada and the United States. It is famous for its way of feeding by climbing on juniper trees. It has the scientific name of Sylvilagus nuttallii.” 

Scientific Name Sylvilagus nuttallii
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order  Lagomorpha
Family Leporidae
Genus Sylvilagus
Species S. nuttallii
Diet  Herbivores
Lifespan  2 years in wild
Size  13.5-16.6 inches
Weight 1.4-1.9 pounds 
Gestation period  28-30 days
Trophic level Herbivores
Length  35-39 cm 

Now let’s talk about each aspect of this rabbit in detail:-

Mountain cottontail vs. Eastern Cottontail

There are many different cottontail rabbits species, and it’s challenging and almost impossible for an average visiting person to identify which of them is what kind of cottontail. However, a biologist may distinguish them based on the habitat and geographic location. Therefore, the one distinguishing factor between eastern and mountain cottontail is their habitat. Mountain cottontails live in the hills and northwest areas, whereas eastern cottontails live in woodland following the east’s watercourses.  

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Mountain cottontail size

This rabbit does not have a giant size, but when we see other rabbits of the same genus, we notice that this rabbit is more massive than most of its cousins. An adult mountain cottontail rabbit weighs lying between 0.7-1.2 kg, and its length varies from 35-39 cm

Mountain Cottontail Rabbit

Mountain cottontail rabbit physical appearance

Its dorsal surface is made of black and gray furs, and when you see it at first glance, you will see an orangish shade at its legs and below the neck. Additionally, its jawline and belly follow the same white color of furs. Its ears follow an oval shape and have white corners and black tips. Its skin has a more blackish shade towards its tail, but the tail itself is made of a white coat. 

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Mountain Cottontail rabbit behavior

Maybe for us, it acts sometimes awkward by eating its own droppings. If you have read our previous articles on cottontail rabbits, you would be familiar with the act of coprophagy, which is common in most of these rabbits. Like most of those rabbits that we have had discussed before, it also eats its own droppings. They produce two types of droppings, dry and moist ones. Latter is eaten by them. 

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Moist droppings have some specialty of containing nutrients in them, and that’s why they are somewhat beneficial for rabbits.

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Mountain Cottontail rabbit feeding behavior

They don’t like to be socialized much; rather, they are conservative. Its feeding behavior is somewhat different from other cottontails; it has a unique capability of jumping up on the trees to have its diet. It spends most of its active hours of the day while feeding. 

Mountain Cottontail rabbit Habitat. 

Most of these species of rabbits are seen in the western USA and Canada. They adapt themselves to the areas where there Is plenty of vegetation, food, sagebrush, etc.

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This rabbit is most active and is not stuck in the same place the whole year. Thus it likes to travel and changes its environment in the search for adequate food.

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 Let me tell you this animal is active in the period, after the sunset and before the sunrise, when it’s not completely dark nor lit, thus distinguishing itself as a crepuscular animal. It feeds on or near the shelter brush. Bad weather reduces their ability to collect food. 

Mountain Cottontail Rabbit 2

Mountain cottontail rabbit diet

Being herbivores, these rabbits feed on grasses such as wheatgrasses, needle-and-thread, cheatgrass brome, and bottlebrush but fruit and shrubs, mainly big-sagebrush, rabbitbrush, saltbushes are also part of their diet. With the change in season, their diet also changes, thus adding woody plant parts such as twigs and barks

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There are not any proper stats specific to the lifespan of this rabbit. However, on average, cottontail rabbits live for more than two years and can be even longer if they eat a healthy and nutritious diet. 

Mountain Cottontail rabbit adaptation

The nest where they used to live is likely cup-like captivity lined with fur and dry grass. Its top is covered with fur, grasses, and woody sticks.

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When frightened, an animal may walk a few yards to where it can hide and freeze its ears to check if danger still exists. When the cottontail is disturbed again, it flips off quickly and tries to trick the attacker by running in a circular motion. Moreover, Coyotes, lynx, martens, crows, hawks, owls, snakes, and bobcats are major predators.

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Mountain Cottontail rabbit facts

Let’s discover some facts related to this rabbit:-

  • It is listed as the least concern mammal in the IUCN red list.
  • Although cottontails are socialized and live in groups, this rabbit is a bit solitary. 
  • Being a cottontail rabbit, it can carry a deadly disease known as “rabbit fever.” 
  • During the day, they almost remain hidden inside their burrows.
  • During the winter, it looks adorable and chubby in the snowy areas.
  • Unlike other rabbits, it climbs up the tree to have its meal.

mountain cottontail rabbit infographic

Mountain Cottontail rabbit baby

Their matting period starts in March and ends in July. Gestation periods lasts 28-30 days. The number of litters born per birth varies from four to five. But these stats are, however, different in California; there this much number is unusual and female rabbit gives birth to two young per birth. An animal uses less than 10 percent of its energy during childbirth to reproduce. 

Young is born blind and bald. Being a mammal, the mother rabbit has milk secretions hormones in its body and thus feeds its newborn baby. Newborn young are not able to move until it weighs 75 grams. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 months and could be even later than this. 

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Do Mountain cottontail rabbit live in groups?

Yes! Cottontail rabbits do live in groups. But living in groups is not common in all other rabbits; this is only in the case of cottontail rabbits. They lives inside the burrows or nest which are either made on their own or by other animals.  

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