Sylvilagus audubonii • Mammals
The desert cottontail is quite similar in appearance to the European rabbit, though its ears are larger and are more often carried erect. Like all cottontail rabbits, the desert cottontail has a rounded tail with white fur on the underside, which is visible as it runs away. It is a light gray-brown in color, with almost white fur on the belly.
The desert cottontail eats on all fours. When alarmed, a cottontail can run up to 20 mph in a zig zag pattern to escape predators. Often, the cottontail runs to a protective location, like a burrow or thicket. If cornered by small predator, like a weasel, a cottontail may “bowl over” the predator and give it a kick with its powerful hind legs as well. A cottontail may also freeze when danger lurks, and scrunch down to blend into its surroundings.
Females can produce several litters per year, and the young are born in a shallow burrow or above ground. They are helpless when born and do not leave the nest until 3 weeks old.