how long do cottontail rabbits live in the wild

How long do cottontail rabbits live?

We live out in the country in Arkansas. We have a lot of rabbits on our property and we enjoy watching them scamper all through our woods.

Over the years of living out here, we have watched generations of rabbits grow up and live here. My kids have named them all Peter, Peter jr, Peter Jr Jr, etc.

We are very original.

But this brings up an interesting question. How long do cottontail rabbits live in the wild?

Stick with me here and we will cover:
Life expectancy of wild cottontail rabbits
Predators of cottontail rabbits
Where cottontail rabbits live

Life Expectancy of Wild Cottontail Rabbits

Wild cottontail rabbits have a life expectancy of 2 years or less. Unfortunately, almost half of them will die before they are a month old.

They are extensively hunted by predators and are a tasty meal.

Cottontail rabbits are born blind, without fur, and helpless. This makes them an easy target.

Within 2 weeks, they are able to forge on their own but this puts them at great risk of being eaten by a predator.

Young rabbits are born blind, naked, and helpless but grow rapidly, leaving the nest after only 2 to 3 weeks. They are weaned and totally independent at 4 to 5 weeks. On average, 15% of the young will survive their first year.


How fast can a cottontail rabbit run? 

At 18-miles-per-hour, cottontail rabbits are one of the fastest animals in North America. Not to mention the fact that they are extremely agile and very well camouflaged. You would think that more of them would survive to an older age! 

In comparison, an alligator can run about 9 to 11 miles-an-hour and lunge at about 30-miles-an-hour.

cottontail rabbit life expectancy

If you are an Olympic track and field fan, then you know who Usain Bolt is and how fast he is. However, he can only run an average of 8-miles-an-hour! 

One of the main predators of the wild cottontail are foxes. Foxes are very fast animals and they can run up to 45-miles-an-hour.

From this list, this means that only Usain Bolt could not catch a cottontail (even at his quick speed). A fox could run them down easily and an alligator could sneak up on them with a quick 30-mile-an-hour lunge.

Predators of Wild Cottontail Rabbits 

Some of the most significant predators of wild cottontails are gray and red foxes. 

Cottontails may comprise nearly 50 percent of the fox diet.


Other predators of cottontails are:

With the cottontail being an integral part of the food chain, it’s no wonder they have such a short life expectancy.

They are just as important to the animal food chain as potatoes are to a good Southern diet.

Where do cottontail rabbits live? 

Cottontail rabbits live all over the United States. In fact, they live in every state except Alaska. Cottontail rabbits also live in parts of Canada and Mexico. 

Here in Arkansas, cottontail rabbits are everywhere.

Every morning when I look outside, there are cottontail rabbits in our backyard, front yard and side yard. We have a least 6 rabbits that live here.

This is very interesting because, from my research, cottontail rabbits usually live on the same 5 to 9 acres their entire lives. This means that it is quite possible that we have witnessed generations of the same rabbit family.

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