Smith’s island cottontail

(Sylvilagus floridanus hitchensis)


This is an insular (pertaining to, situated on, or living on, an island) form similar to Sylvilagus floridanus mallurus, but distinguished from it because it is paler, has less contrasting, sandy brown coloration, has almost a complete lack of a black stripe on the anterior margin of the ears and has heavier, coarser hair, which gives it a shaggy appearance.The females are larger than the males, and have a total length from 400-477 mm, and a weight of 842-1533 grams. 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 subspecies is known only from Smith and Fishermans Islands off the sea-side of Northampton County. This subspecies is fond in grassy areas behind dunes, in marsh edges, thickets of myrtle and poison ivy, and to a lesser extent in scrubby pine forest. They are found in brush and marsh borders.


This species consumes green vegetation in the summer and twigs and the bark of small shrubs in the winter. It consumes herbaceous plant parts, woody plant parts and herbaceous fruit.