Swamp Rabbit


 swampRabbit-westernKY.jpg

 

Common Name
Swamp Rabbit
Category
Mammals
ScientificName
Sylvilagus aquaticus
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Lagomorpha
Family
Leporidae
Genus
Syvilagus
Species
aquaticus
SubSpecies

 

Description
Brownish gray; short coarse fur; white underside, including tail; short, thin tail; large, rust colored feet; large head; black spot between ears; extra skin between toes help them swim and walk through mud
Size
20.5 – 21.3 in. (52 – 54 cm) total length; 2.6 – 2.8 in. (6.7 – 7.1 cm) tail length; 4.1 – 4.3 in. (10.5 – 11 cm) hind foot length; 2.9 – 6.0 lbs. (1.3 – 2.7 kg)
Ecological Role
The swamp rabbit is a plant eater (herbivore). Because it eats plants, it converts plant matter into animal matter (heterotroph) and becomes an important part of the food chain. The swamp rabbit is a prey species for snakes, hawks, owls, foxes, and other mammals.
Fun Facts
The swamp rabbit is often called a swamper and is the largest member of the cottontail family. They are usually solitary animals and are territorial; that is, a rabbit will defend a certain area from use by other swamp rabbits. The male marks the territory by a process called "chinning” in which a scent (pheromones) from the chin area are rubbed onto logs and other surfaces. The swamp rabbit produces both green and brown waste pellets. Green pellets are re-ingested (eaten) to maximize the nutrients received from food. Microorganisms in the rabbit’s gut attach to these pellets and increase the amount of nutrients extracted during the second ingestion. A collection of these pellets on top a log or stump is a sign of their presence. Swamp rabbits are good swimmers and can survive floods by clinging to trees. They have been known to hide underwater with just their nose above the surface. They flee in a zigzag pattern and can run up to 48 miles per hour.
Food
Cane, greenbriar, trumpetvine, spicebush, wahoo (or burning bush), red maple sprouts, elm sprouts, aquatic plants, grasses, sedges, and leaves
Cover
Nests are made of grass in brush piles, hollow logs, or holes in the bank; lined with fur and grass; home range 11 – 27 acres; will hide under water, thick brush, or burrows of other animals during the day
Nest
 
Breeding
January – September; born in 36 – 40 days
Eggs
 
Habitat
Swamps, marshes, wooded floodplains, bottomlands, forested wetlands
Kentucky Distribution
Known from only four counties: Ballard, Graves, Henderson, and Muhlenburg counties
Life Cycle
 
Life Span
 
Life Stage
 
Reproduction
 
Seasonal Changes
 
Spawning
 
Status
Restricted distribution
Uses
 
Voice
Vocal distress calls - squeals and high pitched squeaks
Young
2 – 5 litters per year, liter size 2 – 6; born with fur, eyes and ears are closed, eyes open, begin walking at 2 – 3 days old
What We Can Do
Protect wetland areas. Drainage and pollution of swamps is a major threat to the swamp rabbit. Protect their populations. Swamp rabbits can be taken during the small game season. There is no restriction on their harvest.
Host
 
Diagnosis and Control
 
Interesting Facts
 
Contributed By
 
Website
http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recnum=MA0176