Bugs, Thumper, and the energizer are popular animated bunnies. In real life, cottontail rabbits are as entertaining to watch as their cartoon counterparts. Around dusk or dawn the games are on. They will cavort, chase, and sometimes fight.
Cavorting is a courtship ritual. Males run fast towards females to show interest. Females jump in the air as males pass underneath. Females will jump higher and males will spray urine if interested.
Eastern cottontails have multiple litters with few surviving to breed. Rabbits are a preferred meat source for many predators including coyotes, owls, foxes, and hawks. If spotted, they may run in a zig-zag pattern up to 18 mph. Cottontails have strong senses of sight, hearing, and smell. They communicate by thumping their hind feet, making noises, and letting out high-pitched screams when caught. They feed on grasses and plants at night. Watch for cavorting cottontails on summer evenings.
Watch cottontails in action in the video below.
- Rabbits thrive in habitats of mixed grasses, forbs, and woody brush.
- Managing your land for a wide diversity of plants will ensure rabbits have plenty of good food and cover choices.
- Cottontails choose mostly open areas with scattered grasses and other herbaceous vegetation for nesting. These areas provide good cover as well as abundant foods.
- Dense, well-distributed protective cover is the most critical element in good rabbit habitat.
- By making sure to kill any dense, sod-forming grasses beneath the edge feathered trees, you will provide a variety of food and cover plants intermixed with the brushy downed tops.
Discover more about creating and improving rabbit habitat.