Skip to Main Content

eastern cottontail

Fact File

Scientific Name: Sylvilagus floridanus mallurus

Classification: Mammalia, Order Lagomorpha, Family Leporidae

Identifying Characteristics

The females are larger than the males, and have a total length from 400-477 mm, and a weight of 842-1533 grams. It has a large cottontail, and the coat is long and dense, brownish to grayish on the upper parts, white on the underside and tail. 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.


This particular subspecies is found in all areas of state except for the far northwest and the southern tip of the eastern shore. 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.

Last updated: September 30, 2023

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.