How Long Do Eastern Cottontail Rabbits Live?

A Cottontail rabbit’s life span depends on the quality of food, habitat, protection from predators, and breeding.

How long do eastern cottontail rabbits live? Usually, cottontail rabbits live in wild with an average lifespan of three years though they can live up to eight years domestically.

Cottontail rabbits start reproduction at the age of one year, and females produce 3-8 young in a single season.

Cottontail rabbits live on grass, shrubs, and other plants and vegetables in suburban landscapes.

However, cottontail rabbits do not get enough food varieties from the suburban community’s grass monocultures.

Since the area was populated and have agricultural fields, shelterbelts, and fence rows reduced the eastern cottontail rabbits.

How Long do Eastern Cottontail Rabbits Live?

Cottontail rabbits can live up to 8 years as pets (while in the wild, they usually live around 3 years).

Cottontail rabbits are species that produce a great population at once in a concise period.

In the wild, an individual at the age of maturity can quickly reproduce and increase the population.

Female rabbits produce babies after 30 days gestation period or depending on the food so find grassy, subterranean nest cavities to litters.

5 Factors that Determine Eastern Cottontail Rabbits Life Cycle

Certain factors determine the lifespan of cottontail rabbits because they are so sensitive and delicate.

Food Supply

Cottontail rabbits are vegetarians and can eat grass to bark, buds, twigs, clover plant, dandelion, prized tulip, and also ornamental trees by eating bark.

Moreover, they love to eat various plants like lettuce, blackberries, beans, beets, strawberries, and raspberries.

Green plants are favorite and provide nutrition in summer to keep their body oxidized, wild strawberries, and various plants in the garden.

Cottontail’s eating habits change with the season and depend on the available resource.

In winter, they eat barks, buds of oaks, maple, birch, or sumac. Like us, the rabbits also have a feeding pattern once after few hours of dawn and a second after sunset later an hour.

These cottontail rabbits swallow their fecal pellets of food material because of the inefficiency of the digestive system.

They usually swallow their feces that is green, moist, and contain undigested food without chewing.

The repeated digestion process is efficient now to consume the nutrition from it and offers more nutrients to absorb to the rabbit’s body.

The re-digestion of food may be the reason for their survival as they hastily eat.

Territorial Habitat

Cottontail rabbits do not leave their place, especially females, as they produce babies during mating season, whereas they have sex far from home.

They love to live in the edge environments and open areas like meadows, farmlands, forest clearings, swamps and marshes, and residential areas.

Usually travel between the fields, thick grassy areas, and the side of a woodpile for their safety from predators.

They are rather unsafe in city life with a lack of hedgerows or dense grasses.

Life Threats

Eastern cottontail rabbits are large in population and have to survive with many predators as they form a major component of the predator’s diet.

These include dogs, cats, snakes, foxes, raccoons, barred owls, corvids, bobcats, minks, coyotes, hawks, and horned owls.

During nesting season, red-tailed hawks prey on cottontail rabbits in central Missouri like other predators (skunks, raccoon, Virginia opossum, and badger).

Cottontail rabbits have life threats from a horned owl in Pennsylvania, goshawk in Southwest around 7-25%, and Texas by coyotes.

They are the major prey diets of bobcats in North Dakota.

Behavior factor

During mating season, cottontail rabbits stay hidden in the brush piles, thickets, and hollow logs from a predator in the summer.

Cottontail rabbits take advantage of their color-changing ability or dart away in zig zag when its danger is a predator.

The cottontail rabbits usually run at the speed of eighteen miles per hour when they sense some predator.

They are solitary animals and don’t like to live with their species, so a female’s home range varies between one to fifteen acres in size.

Simultaneously, the male rabbit acquired one hundred acres of area and display behavior (cavorting) before mating.

This premating behavior is so loving and includes a great deal of hopping, racing, running, and fighting as it is because of hiding and hair shed.

Cavorting occurs on the night of the warmest day of the year before mating.

If they do not mate, then the female rabbit can die of estrogen produced in their body. So for long life, they have to mate with each other.


Cottontail is very sharp and active and always keeps an eye on danger, so they move slowly, hop only short distances and freeze or crouch.

Their hair color blends with the background and does not move when it is dangerous or gets someone’s focus.

Unfortunately, if detected by the predator, they have several routes to run away or even punch as it leaps in the air and over the back of its predator with hind legs.

They can fight to the death if they get caught and use their full power to hit the predator on the head with his thud.

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