Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
Search the Archive

  Lagomorpha · Leporidae · Sylvilagus audubonii
   Smithsonian Institution
   Copyright Notice
   Privacy Notice
Sylvilagus audubonii

Desert Cottontail

Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae

Click to see a 3-D view.
Image of Sylvilagus audubonii
Click to enlarge. (83 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Living well below sea level in Death Valley and also in woodland and grassland up to 2,000 m elevation, Desert Cottontails are able to tolerate diverse habitats. They are most active at dawn and dusk, and spend hot days resting in a burrow or in a "hide," which is a shallow depression in the ground or in vegetation. Like all rabbits, they are vegetarians, feeding on grasses, shrubs, and forbs. They also eat acorns. When they can, they forage under shrubs, and when they venture out from under shelter, they move cautiously, and freeze when alarmed. They breed year-round, and mature quickly: breeding is seen in individuals as young as three months of age.

Also known as:
Audubon's Cottontail

Sexual Dimorphism:
Females are larger than males.

Average: 385 mm
Range: 372-397 mm

Range: 755-1,250 g


Baird, S.F., 1857 [1858].  Mammals. In Reports of explorations and surveys, to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Vol. 8, Pt. 1. Mammals, p. 608.  Beverly Tucker Printer, Washington, D.C., 8(1):1-757.


Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Sylvilagus audubonii

Image of Sylvilagus audubonii
Click to enlarge. (40kb)