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Desert Cottontail

Cottontail rabbits are named for their tails, which look like a cotton ball.  They are light colored, usually tan or gray and they have a whitish underbody.  You can often see them scampering across Idaho roads at night or in the early morning hours, the coolest times of the day.  You can usually spot their white tails first. When scared, a cottontail can run up to twenty miles per hour in a zigzag pattern to escape predators. 

Desert Cottontail
A young desert cottontail

 
Habitat: Cottontails especially like to live in grassland and shrubland areas, as well as in riparian areas (on the banks of a natural watercourse, such as creeks, rivers, lakes, etc.) and in pinyon-juniper forests. BLM-managed lands feature many of these habitats.

Food:  
They are herbivores, meaning that they eat only plants. Cottontails love grasses, flowering plants, shrubs, and will even eat cacti. Because they are often desert-dwelling creatures, they get most of their water from the plants they eat or from dew that forms on plants. These cute little creatures are coprophagic, meaning that they eat their own feces. They do this because the main source of their diet is grass, and grass is difficult to digest. So, after eating, they eat the first round of their pellets because they contain a lot of nutrients.      

Fun Facts: These little rabbits’ tails function as an alarm signal to other rabbits. When one of them raises its tail, the large white patch of cottony fur is exposed, which sends the signal to other rabbits that there is danger nearby.   

desert cottontail
Desert cottontail


Environmental Education:
Wildlife Species 


 

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Herbivore Mammals

Jackrabbit
Pygmy rabbit
Desert cottontail
Beaver
Eastern gray squirrel
Red squirrel
Chipmunk
Deer mouse
Kangaroo rat
Meadow vole
Mule deer
Elk
Bighorn sheep
American pronghorn
Moose


Carnivore Mammals

Bobcat
American badger
River otter
Red fox
Long-tailed weasel
Coyote
Grizzly bear
Mountain lion


Amphibians

Salamanders

Long-toed salamander
Idaho giant salamander
Coeur d'Alene salamander

Frogs and Toads

American bullfrog
Columbia spotted frog
Western toad
Northern leopard frog
Pacific tree frog
Great Basin spadefoot

Reptiles

Snakes

Painted turtle
Northern alligator lizard
Mohave black-collared lizard
Short-horned lizard
Desert horned lizard
Sagebrush lizard
Western fence lizard
Western skink
Side-blotched lizard
Longnosed leopard lizard
Western whiptail


Bats

Western pipistrelle
Western small-footed myotis
Little brown bat
Yuma myotis
Townsend's big-eared bat
Hoary bat
Silver-haired bat
Fringed myotis
Pallid bat

Sensitive Species (not a complete list)

Greater sage-grouse
Pygmy rabbit
No. Idaho ground squirrel
So. Idaho ground squirrel
Canada lynx
Grizzly bear
Selkirk Mtns. woodland caribou
Kootenai White River sturgeon
Bull trout
Sockeye salmon
Chinook salmon
Steelhead trout
Yellow-billed cuckoo


Birds

Waterfowl
Raptors
Songbirds

Fish