Appalachian cottontail

(Sylvilagus obscurus)


The coat of this rabbit is whitish on the underparts, grayish to brown to reddish brown mixed with black on the dorsum. The cheeks are grizzled, buffy gray and black. The forehead has a small black spot and the anterior edges of the ears are covered with black hair. The total length is 390-410 mm and the weight is .9-1.5 kg. The breeding season is from March to late August and 3-4 liters of 4-8 young are born each year. The nests consist of a ground depression about 4 inches deep and 5 inches wide is generally lined with fur and grass and with a cap over the top. The home range size is 4 acres/.006 square miles. It is secretive animal which rarely ventures into the open. This species is more a forest dwelling rabbit than the eastern cottontail and its need for extensive forests without significant openings is an important limiting factor. This species is probably being displaced by the eastern cottontail in areas where human disturbance is great.


This species is known in Virginia mostly from higher elevations in the western counties and are found at higher elevations than eastern cottontails. They prefer cool, boreal environment near areas of hemlock, rhododendron, or mountain laurel.


This species eats herbaceous plants in the summer and bark, twigs and buds in the winter. They consume grasses, herbs, shrubs, mushrooms, buds, fruits and seeds.