Local Wildlife

Mountain Cottontail Rabbit

Picture of Mountain Cottontail Rabbit
Scientific Name: Sylvilagus nuttallii
Addt'l Info: Univ. of Michigan

The mountain cottontail rabbit is a small to medium sized cottontail with an even, dark brown fur. The tail is dark brown on top with the characteristic white fur underneath (which, when escaping, offers the flash of "cotton" after which it is named). Adult mountain cottontail rabbits are generally just over a foot long and eat mostly grasses. However, their diet can also include berries, leaves, and clover.

As prey for many other animals, brush rabbits are rarely found in wide-open areas where they are exposed. Instead, they prefer tall grasses, small bushes, and such that keep them well hidden from predators. In Sunriver, you are most likely to see them in areas with nearby thickets or low, shrubby bushes to which they can quickly escape and hide if necessary. You can also find them nibbling the lush grass of a lawn if suitable cover such as a deck or woodpile is close.

These small mammals do not hibernate in winter. As a result, they can be seen year-round. Brush rabbits generally appear at dusk and remain active until the very early morning. In some cases, they may stay active until late morning. Afternoons are spent resting in the thickets where they often make their home.

To protect themselves, these rabbits can remain completely still for long periods of time, blending into their surroundings and making it very difficult for predators (or anyone else) to see them. When frightened they may run in a large circle or in a zig-zag pattern and can achieve speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.