SWAMP RABBIT
Sylvilagus aquaticus
(Bachman, 1837)


sil-va-la-gus uh-quat-i-cus




An adult Swamp Rabbit.

Description:
The swamp rabbit is the largest cottontail in Kansas. This species can be distinguished from other Kansas cottontails by: 1) reddish brown dorsal fur lined extensively with black, 2) underparts white except for a grayish breast, 3) feet reddish brown above and haired both above and below, 4) ears shorter (relative to body size) than the eastern cottontail and more bluntly rounded at the tips. Females are slightly larger than males which is an exception to the general situation in mammals.

Distribution:
The swamp rabbit is restricted to the southeastern part of Kansas where it occurs in wet places, poorly drained river-bottoms, swampy woodlands and along edges of rivers and creeks. Patches of protective shrubs in combination with adjacent wet lands are ideal habitat for this semiaquatic mammal.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 33 Total Records 
  • 33 Museum Vouchers 
  • 0 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Cherokee (22); Crawford (4); Labette (6);

Natural History:
The presence of swamp rabbits in an area is readily determined by accumulations of fecal pellets on emergent logs, rocks, and dry platforms of soil or plant material in wet or swampy areas. Being semiaquatic, these rabbits swim with ease and even dive beneath the water. Floods are perhaps one of their greatest hazards, and when high waters occur the swamp rabbit retreats to brushy uplands nearby. While the eastern cottontail and the swamp rabbit share the same general community, the latter is less inclined to leave wet areas and move to dry hillsides. As is true with the eastern cottontail, the swamp rabbit goes through periods of great abundance, alternating with periods of scarcity.
Adults may attain the following dimensions: total length 490-540 mm; tail 54-71 mm; hind foot 105-110 mm; ear 67-77 mm; weight 1280-2020 grams.
All kinds of green vegetation, including emergent aquatic plants and others associated with their community, are eaten. In winter, stems of trees and shrubs are consumed by swamp rabbits as alternate foods.
The presence of swamp rabbits in an area is readily determined by accumulations of fecal pellets on emergent logs, rocks, and dry platforms of soil or plant material in wet or swampy areas. Being semiaquatic, these rabbits swim with ease and even dive beneath the water. Floods are perhaps one of their greatest hazards, and when high waters occur the swamp rabbit retreats to brushy uplands nearby. While the eastern cottontail and the swamp rabbit share the same general community, the latter is less inclined to leave wet areas and move to dry hillsides. As is true with the eastern cottontail, the swamp rabbit goes through periods of great abundance, alternating with periods of scarcity.
Adults may attain the following dimensions: total length 490-540 mm; tail 54-71 mm; hind foot 105-110 mm; ear 67-77 mm; weight 1280-2020 grams.
All kinds of green vegetation, including emergent aquatic plants and others associated with their community, are eaten. In winter, stems of trees and shrubs are consumed by swamp rabbits as alternate foods.
As with rabbits in general, the swamp rabbit is prolific, generally producing two litters a year of one to six young each (usually three or four). After a gestation period of 39 to 40 days (longer than in other Sylvilagus ), the young are born in a nest of dry grasses and stems lined with the soft underfur of the female. The nest is placed in a depression on the surface of the ground or along the edge of a log or stone. In this respect it is much like the nest of the eastern cottontail. The young are only 56 grams in weight at birth, but they are better covered with hair and are more advanced in body growth than in other species of cottontails. The eyes open in two or three days and at that time they are able to move about feebly. Like other cottontails, swamp rabbit females usually nurse their young once each day and remain away from their nests at other times, perhaps to avoid attracting predators to the nests.

Occurrence Activity:
Remarks:
The larger bird and mammal predators depend upon the swamp rabbit as a main source of food. The young are consumed by snakes. Tularemia is found in this rabbit, and while today the cure for this disease is relatively simple, sick rabbits should not be handled.

Bibliography:
Account Last Updated:
7/13/2017 10:18:52 AM


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