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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Lagomorpha · Leporidae · Sylvilagus obscurus

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Sylvilagus obscurus

Appalachian Cottontail

Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae

Image of Sylvilagus obscurus
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Conservation Status: Near Threatened.

The Appalachian Cottontail and the New England Cottontail look almost identical, and for a long time they were thought to be the same species. They are medium-sized rabbits with fine, silky fur. Nearly all Appalachian Cottontails are found in dense conifer and deciduous forests at upper elevations. They are the only cottontails known to feed heavily on conifer needles. They are social in some of their behaviors and solitary in others—they groom alone, but vocalize when they are with other cottontails, and may establish hierarchies, in which some rabbits are dominant and others submissive to them.

Sexual Dimorphism:

Females are larger than males.


Average: 408 mm
Range: 386-40 mm


Range: 756-1,038 g


Chapman, J.A., K.L. Cramer, N.J. Deppenaar and T J. Robinson. 1992. Systematics and biogeography of the New England cottontail, Sylvilagus transitionalis (Bangs, 1895), with the description of a new species from the Appalachian Mountains. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 105:841-866.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Sylvilagus obscurus

Image of Sylvilagus obscurus
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