Desert Cottontail Rabbit

(Sylvilagus audubonii)

Desert Cottontail Rabbit Rocklin CA Placer-County

Lifespan: Averages about 2 years, depending on the location. In captivity average age is 7.8 years.

Weight: Average is 31.72 oz (~2 lbs). Can weigh up to 3.3 lbs. Females tend to be larger than males.

Size: Adults are 13" to 17" long. Ears are 3.1" to 3.9" tall. Hind feet are ~ 3.0" long.

When escaping from a predator it can reach speeds of over 19 mph.

Diet consists of mainly grass, but will eat other plants such as herbs, vegetables and even cacti. It does not need to drink often since it gets most of its water from the plants it eats or from dew.
Ranges throughout the western United States from eastern Montana to western Texas, and in northern and central Mexico. Westwards, the top of its range extends from central Nevada and the bottom down to southern California and Baja California. It can be found at elevations of up to 6,600 ft.

The Desert Cottontail only has about 5 litters per year which is typically less than other species in the Genus.

Breeding Season: December or January until the late summer.

Breeding Age: (~ 3 to 6 months) On average Females = 164 days old & Males = 107 days old.

Gestation: 26 to 30 days. In response to environmental conditions pregnant females sometimes resorb some of their embryos before gestation is complete.

The female builds a nest for her young in a hole dug in the ground about 20 cm deep lined grass and fur.

Litter Size: 1 to 5 (averages 3). By day 10 their eyes are open. Weaning takes place ~ 21 to 28 days. Offspring will leave the nest in a little less than two weeks and remain near the nest for another three weeks.


  1. "Desert Cottontail". Taxa, All Species, Catalog of Life: 2012, Retrieved November, 2016.
  2. "Desert Cottontail". Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November, 2016.
  3. Ciszek, D. 1999. "Sylvilagus audubonii". (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved November, 2016.