Your Florida Backyard NSiS Home Page Your Florida Backyard Rabbits & Hares
Rabbits and hares are jumping mammals with large hind legs, long ears, and short tails. Like rodents, rabbits and hares have a pair of long, chisel-like upper incisors, but they also have a second pair behind them. Food plants include elms, hawthorns, blue phlox, ash, and grapes.
 

 
The Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus, a native of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, can be found in grassy open areas in the Miami area, particularly around Miami International Airport. It was released repeatedly in the Miami area during the 1930's and 40's to train greyhounds. In the 1960's it was released near the Tampa Dog Track but a population never became established.
 
Actually a hare, it is grayish brown with a whitish underside and a white tail. It has extremely long ears. It is 18-25" long.
 
It is nocturnal, feeding on herbs and grasses.
 
It can transmit tularemia.
 

 
The Eastern Cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus, is found throughout Florida except in the Keys, coastal marshes, and dense forests. It is grayish brown with a white underside and brown throat. It is 12-20" long.
 
It is primarily nocturnal, resting inn a shallow depression in dense clumps of grass during the day. Its diet consists of leaves of legumes, broad-leafed weeds, and grasses.
 
Eastern cottontails breed year-round. After a 28-day gestation period, a litter of 1-8 young is born. The nest is a fur- and grass-lined depression in the ground. When the mother leaves the nest to forage, she covers the litter with more fur and grass. The young leave the nest when they are 3-4 weeks old. Females can breed again immediately after giving birth, so often, as soon as the young leave, another litter is born. Most females have 5-6 litters per year.
 
Predators include most carnivores.
 
The Marsh Rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris, is found in freshwater and brackish marshes statewide. It is reddish brown with a gray underside and tail. It is 16-18" long.
 
It is primarily nocturnal and semi-aquatic. It often makes runways through dense vegetation.
 
Diet consists of emergent aquatic plants and wetland plants including grasses, sedge, maidencane, broad-leafed herbs, and weeds.
 
It can breed year round but most often from December to June. Litters contain 1-6 young. The young remain with the mother for 4 weeks. The female can breed again right after giving birth.
 
Predators include most carnivores.
 
** PROTECTED **
The Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, is found in marshes in the Keys from Big Pine to Boca Chica. It is known as the "playboy bunny" because its research was financed in part by the Playboy Foundation. It is brownish with a gray underside. It is 14-16" long. Predators are dogs and cats.
 

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