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Mearn's eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus mearnsii)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

They are almost indistinguishable from Sylvilagus floridanus mallurus, but typical specimens show a somewhat paler, grayer, less rufous coloration of the back, a slightly grayer rump, and a somewhat duller nape.The females are larger than the males, and have a total length from 400-477 mm, and a weight of 842-1533 grams. The onset of the breeding season varies between populations and from year-to-year within populations. Three to four litters of 3-6 young per litter are born each year. The home range is affected by the distribution and type of cover and abundance of food. They will also consume their own soft fecal droppings extracting additional energy and vitamins. The nests are slanting holes, generally lined with leaves and grass with an inner lining of fur. Shelter and resting cover is provided by brushpiles. The home range size is 5.5 acres/.0086 square miles. They are generally nocturnal and are most active at dawn and dusk. When injured or captured their screams may serve to warn others. The average life span is 15 months and the potential life span is 10 years.

Distribution

This species mainly occurs in the northern midwest region of the U.S. from West Virginia to Missouri and north. In Virginia they are found in the extreme northwest on the West Virginia border. They are found in early successional stages of almost all forest types. They also use heavy brush strips of forest with open areas nearby, edges of swamps and weed patches.

Foods

This species consumes green vegetation in the summer and twigs and the bark of small shrubs in the winter. It consumes herbaceous plant parts, woody plant parts and herbaceous fruit.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).