Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii), Lockwood Park. May 2016. Photo: K. Fitzgerald.
- Large, pointed ears with very little hair on the insides.
- Large tail is dark above, white below.
- Light grayish-brown fur on body.
Desert cottontail are common in a variety of lower elevation habitats of the Western U.S., from deserts to riparian areas. Along the Truckee River, they often hide out in willows or other thickets of dense bushes. They are most active during early morning or evening hours.
These rabbits nest in shallow holes (about 6-10 inches deep) lined with grass, weeds and rabbit fur. Babies remain in the nest for about two weeks after birth, and can breed when they reach about 80 days old (Chapman & Willner 1978).
Predators of the rabbit include coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls and snakes. Desert cottontail feed on grasses and other plants. They are short-lived, and usually only live for about a year (Chapman & Willner 1978).