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Cottontails are named after their tail, which is shaped like a cotton ball. The adult desert cottontail is light colored, tan to gray. The underside of the body is light beige and it often has an orangish-brown throat patch. The tail is gray on top and fluffy white below.


The desert cottontail is thirteen to seventeen inches in length and weighs about two to three pounds. The ears average three to four inches long. Females are larger than the males. The two most common 'rabbits' in the park are the cottontail and the jackrabbit (which is truly a hare) but they are easy to tell apart by size and shape. The jackrabbit is much larger with very long ears.


The desert cottontail builds a nest in a depression, abandoned badger or prairie dog burrow, or beneath a shrub. She lines the nest with grass and fur that she pulls from her belly.


A female may bear young year round or up to eight months of the year. She may bear twenty to thirty young in four to five litters. A normal litter has two to six young, which are born blind, furless and unable to care for themselves (altrical). The mother returns to the den site to feed her young. The young are weaned at two weeks old, and they leave the nest three weeks after birth.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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