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Cottontail Rabbits Essay

877 words - 4 pages

Rabbits are commonly mistaken for rodents, but belong to their own order called lagomorphs. Cottontails vary in color from gray to brown and have large ears, large hind feet, and fluffy tails. They average about a foot in length and weigh 2 to 3 pounds. Cottontails are generally found in brushy hedgerows, edges of open fields and meadows, areas of dense high grass, in wood thickets, along fence rows, forest edges, and the borders of marshy areas. They also do very well in suburbs and urban areas. In summer, cottontails feed almost entirely on tender grasses and herbs. Vegetables such as peas, beans, and lettuce are also eaten. In winter, bark, twigs, and buds of shrubs and young trees are eaten. Rabbits will also re-ingest their own fecal pellets, increasing their level of vitamins and minerals.Cottontail rabbits do not burrow underground to make nests like their European cousins. Rather, they nest in depressions in the ground. The New England cottontail and the Eastern cottontail are almost identical in appearance, except for slight variations in color. Around half of the Eastern cottontail population shows a white, star like shape on the forehead, while none of the New England cottontails exhibit this trait. ( Eastern cottontail was introduced into New England in the late 1800s and early 1900s and has been expanding its range since then, out-competing the native New England cottontail for its habitat. In the mid-1930s, New England cottontails were still considered abundant and more numerous than the Eastern cottontail. However, as agricultural areas reverted back to forest and these forests matured, populations of both species were reduced. Presently, the Eastern cottontail is now the predominant species. ( England cottontails range almost everywhere throughout the New England area. Northern cottontails range from New England to the Hudson River and south down the Appalachian Mountains. The Eastern cottontail is more abundant and its range is expanding, while the New England cottontail's range is diminishing. ( New England cottontails live in the biome known as the temperate deciduous forests which receives an average annual rainfall of 30-60 inches. The normal temperature range of the deciduous forests on the east coast of North America is 20-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Weather ranges almost entirely across the spectrum of known meteorological occurrences. Sunny warm weather is common here during the summer with occasional rain showers. Snow is not uncommon during the winter. Also, there are four distinct seasons in this biome. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall are all easily identifiable from each other.Due to its high productivity rate, the cottontail rabbit is an important link in the food chain and a...

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