Eastern cottontails belong to the Leporidae family (rabbit and hare family). Cottontails are easy to identify by their long ears, large back feet, and small tails that are white on the underside. They have buff to brownish gray fur with white undersides. Cottontails typically weigh two to four pounds and are fully grown by six months of age.
The only mammal in Illinois that might be confused with the cottontail is the Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus). In Illinois, the swamp rabbit is found only in the southern counties. Swamp rabbits are similar in appearance to the cottontail but are larger and have darker, reddish- brown fur. Swamp rabbits are found in thickets or woods bordering swamps and are very good swimmers.
Did you know?
- Eastern cottontail rabbits are lagomorphs not rodents.
- One female cottontail rabbit may have 20 to 25 young per year.