Bear Hunters:  The 2014 archery/crossbow season for bears opens Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014.  All hunters must check the KDFWR homepage or call the Info Center at 1-800-858-1549 AFTER 9:00 PM each day of the season to learn if the black bear quota was met. Go here for info about checking bears

Bear Hunters: The quota for the 2014 archery/crossbow season for bears WAS NOT MET today.  Therefore, the bear season will remain open tomorrow.  For information about checking bears, click here.

 Rabbit Biology

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has three species of rabbits. The eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit is the most numerous and can be found throughout the state. The Appalachian cottontail (Sylvilagus  obscurus) can be found at higher elevations in the mountains of the southeast. It is very hard to tell the difference between the eastern cottontail and the Appalachian cottontail, the most reliable way to distinguish between the two is to examine the sutures or cracks in the skull. The last species that can be found in Kentucky is the swamp (Sylvilagus aquaticus) rabbit, and can be found in wetland areas in the western portion of the state.

Distinguishing between species:

Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus):

  • Color:
    • Grayish brown with a white underside
  • Size:
    • 3 lbs.
    • 21"
  • Distinguishing Characteristic:
    • White puffball tail
  • Food:
    • Spring/Summer - Grasses/legumes
    • Fall/Winter - Bark/fruits of woody vegetation
  • Average Home Range:
    • 13 acres
  • Litter Size:
    • 4-5 litters per year
    • 3-5 young per litter

Appalachian Cottontail (Sylvilagus obscurus):

  • Color:
    • Dark gray-brown with a white underside
  • Size:
    • 1 - 1 1/2 lbs.
    • 14-19"
  • Distinguishing Characteristic:
    • Black strip around ears and black spot on forehead
  • Food:
    • Spring/Summer - Grasses/legumes
    • Fall/Winter - Bark/twigs/fruits/seeds/buds
  • Average Home Range:
    • .5 - 8 acres
  • Litter Size:
    • 4-5 litters per year
    • 5 young per litter

Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus):

  • Color:
    • Brownish-gray washed with black on the back and sides
  • Size:
    • 3-6 lbs.
    • 14-17"
  • Distinguishing Characteristic:
    • White underside turns to reddish-brown under neck.  Big-headed with short fur and thinly haired tail.
  • Food:
    • Spring/Summer/Fall - Grasses/sedges
    • Winter - Twigs/buds/seeds/fruit
  • Average Home Range:
    • 11 acres
  • Litter Size:
    • 4-5 litters per year
    • 2-3 young per litter

 
Source:  Feldhamer et. al. Wild Mammals of North America; Biology, Management, and Conservation.  The John Hopkins University Press. 2003