The swamp rabbit ( Sylvilagus
aquaticus), or swamp hare,[3] is a large cottontail rabbit found in the swamps and wetlands of the southern United States. Other common names for the swamp rabbit include marsh rabbit and cane-cutter. The common name, along with the species name aquaticus (meaning found in water), are suitable names for a species with a strong preference for wet areas and that will take to the water and swim.[4]


1 Range and habitat 2 Physical description 3 Predation 4 Ontogeny and reproduction 5 Diet 6 Species competition 7 See also 8 References

Range and habitat[edit] The swamp rabbit is found in much of the south-central United States and along the Gulf coast.[5] It is most abundant in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, but also inhabits South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Georgia.[5] Swamp
rabbits mainly live close to lowland water, often in cypress swamps, marshland, floodplain, and river tributaries.[5] Swamp
rabbits spend much of their time in depressions which they dig in tall grass or leaves, providing cover while they wait until the nighttime to forage.[5] Physical description[edit] S. aquaticus is the largest of the cottontail species, although its ears are smaller than of other cottontails.[5] Males are slightly larger than females.[5] The head and back are typically dark or rusty brown or black, while the throat, ventral surface, and tail are white, and there is a cinnamon-colored ring around the eye.[5] Their sides, rump, tail and feet are much more brownish, along with a pinkish-cinnamon eye-ring, as opposed to the whitish eye-ring in eastern cottontails.[4] S. aquaticus males vary in weight from approximately 4 lb (1.8 kg) to 5.6 lb (2.5 kg), with an average of about 5 lb (2.3 kg); females vary from approx. 3.6 lb (1.6 kg) to 5.9 lb (2.7 kg), averaging about 4.8 lb (2.2 kg). S. aquaticus ranges in length from approx. 17.8 inches (45 cm) to 21.7 in (55 cm), with an average length of about 19.7 in (50 cm).[5] Predation[edit] Known predators of S. aquaticus are domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), and humans (Homo sapiens).[5] Even though their swimming abilities lack the speed to escape a pack of hunting dogs, swamp rabbits elude pursuers by lying still in the water surrounded by brush or plant debris with only their nose visible.[4] The species is hunted for fur, meat, and sport, and is the second-most commonly hunted rabbit in the United States.[5] Swamp
rabbits have several adaptations to avoid predators: cryptic coloration, "freezing", and rapid, irregular jumping patterns.[5] Ontogeny and reproduction[edit] S. aquaticus are synchronous breeders. Females give birth to altricial young. Young are born with well-developed fur but their eyes are closed and they are immobile. Their eyes have opened by day 3 and the young have begun walking. They are weaned and leave the nest after about 15 days. Young are sexually mature at 7 months and reach adult weight at 10 months.[6] The nests in which the young are born consist of a slight depression in the earth that is filled with grasses mixed with rabbit hair.[4] Breeding season varies widely across the range of S. aquaticus, usually occurring anywhere between February and August, but can occur year-round in Texas. Spermatogenesis
has been noted to occur in S. aquaticus in Missouri in October and November. In a Mississippi
study, groups of males harvested in December and February had higher percentages of individuals with descended testes than those harvested in any other months (Class 2006). S. aquaticus exhibit induced ovulation and have an hour-long estrus. The gestation period lasts 35 to 40 days. Females can have 1 to 3 litters a year with each litter consisting of 4 to 6 young. The occurrence of embryo resorption has been seen in S. aquaticus; this loss of in-utero litters is attributed to some type of habitat disturbance such as flooding, which may cause overcrowding to occur.[6] Diet[edit] Swamp
rabbits are herbivorous; they eat a variety of foraged plants, including grasses, sedges, shrubs, tree bark seedlings, and twigs.[5] They feed mainly at night but rain showers will often cause them to feed during daytime as well.[4] A study has found that the preferred foods of S. aquaticus are savannah panicgrass (Phanopyrum gymnocarpon), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), dewberry (Rubus sieboldii) and greenbrier (Smilax bona-nox).[5] Like other lagomorphs, they have a double digestion. Food passes through their gut twice, first producing soft, green feces (cecotropes) which still contain nutrients. These are eaten by the animal (coprophagy), and after further digestion the remains form drier, dark brown or black hard pellets, which are not eaten.[5] Species competition[edit] Rival males will often engage in aggressive encounters that sometimes become violent enough to kill one of the combatants. When fighting, males will stand on their hind legs and use their teeth and claws to inflict wounds on their opponent. They will also jump from the ground and strike with the sharp claws of the hind feet.[4] See also[edit]

Jimmy Carter rabbit incident


^ Hoffman, R.S.; Smith, A.T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal
Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 207–8. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.  ^ Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. (2008). " Sylvilagus
aquaticus". The IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008: e.T41296A10417240. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T41296A10417240.en. Retrieved 14 December 2017.  ^  Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Swamp Hare". New International Encyclopedia
New International Encyclopedia
(1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.  ^ a b c d e f Reed, Don (September 2008). "Wildlife Species Profile Swamp
( Sylvilagus
aquaticus)" (PDF). Louisiana
Wildlife News (5). Louisiana
State University Agricultural Center. Retrieved 25 November 2014.  ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sylvilagus
aquaticus (swamp rabbit), Animal
Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. ^ a b Courtney, Emily M. (5 September 2008). " Swamp
rabbit ( Sylvilagus
aquaticus )" (PDF). Mammals in Mississippi
(3). Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi
State University. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 

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v t e

Extant Lagomorpha

Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Class Mammalia Infraclass Eutheria Superorder Euarchontoglires

Family Ochotonidae (Pikas)


Subgenus Pika: Alpine pika
Alpine pika
(O. alpina) Helan Shan pika (O. argentata) Collared pika
Collared pika
(O. collaris) Hoffmann's pika
Hoffmann's pika
(O. hoffmanni) Northern pika
Northern pika
(O. hyperborea) Pallas's pika
Pallas's pika
(O. pallasi) American pika
American pika
(O. princeps) Turuchan pika
Turuchan pika
(O. turuchanensis)

Subgenus Ochotona: Gansu pika
Gansu pika
(O. cansus) Plateau pika
Plateau pika
(O. curzoniae) Daurian pika
Daurian pika
(O. dauurica) Tsing-ling pika
Tsing-ling pika
(O. huangensis) Nubra pika
Nubra pika
(O. nubrica) Steppe pika
Steppe pika
(O. pusilla) Afghan pika
Afghan pika
(O. rufescens) Moupin pika
Moupin pika
(O. thibetana) Thomas's pika
Thomas's pika
(O. thomasi)

Subgenus Conothoa: Chinese red pika
Chinese red pika
(O. erythrotis) Forrest's pika
Forrest's pika
(O. forresti) Gaoligong pika
Gaoligong pika
(O. gaoligongensis) Glover's pika
Glover's pika
(O. gloveri) Himalayan pika
Himalayan pika
(O. himalayana) Ili pika
Ili pika
(O. iliensis) Koslov's pika
Koslov's pika
(O. koslowi) Ladak pika
Ladak pika
(O. ladacensis) Large-eared pika
Large-eared pika
(O. macrotis) Muli pika
Muli pika
(O. muliensis) Black pika
Black pika
(O. nigritia) Royle's pika
Royle's pika
(O. roylei) Turkestan red pika
Turkestan red pika
(O. rutila)

Family Leporidae
(Rabbits and Hares)


Amami rabbit
Amami rabbit
(P. furnessi)


Riverine rabbit
Riverine rabbit
(B. monticularis)


Sumatran striped rabbit
Sumatran striped rabbit
(N. netscheri) Annamite striped rabbit
Annamite striped rabbit
(N. timminsi)


Volcano rabbit
Volcano rabbit
(R. diazi)


Pygmy rabbit
Pygmy rabbit
(B. idahoensis)

Sylvilagus (Cottontail rabbits)

Subgenus Tapeti: Swamp
rabbit (S. aquaticus) Tapeti
(S. brasiliensis) Dice's cottontail
Dice's cottontail
(S. dicei) Omilteme cottontail
Omilteme cottontail
(S. insonus) Marsh
rabbit (S. palustris) Venezuelan lowland rabbit
Venezuelan lowland rabbit
(S. varynaensis)

Subgenus Sylvilagus: Desert cottontail
Desert cottontail
(S. audubonii) Manzano mountain cottontail
Manzano mountain cottontail
(S. cognatus) Mexican cottontail
Mexican cottontail
(S. cunicularis) Eastern cottontail
Eastern cottontail
(S. floridanus) Tres Marias rabbit
Tres Marias rabbit
(S. graysoni) Mountain cottontail
Mountain cottontail
(S. nuttallii) Appalachian cottontail
Appalachian cottontail
(S. obscurus) Robust cottontail
Robust cottontail
(S. robustus) New England cottontail
New England cottontail
(S. transitionalis)

Subgenus Microlagus: Brush rabbit
Brush rabbit
(S. bachmani) San José brush rabbit
San José brush rabbit
(S. mansuetus)


European rabbit
European rabbit
(O. cuniculus)


Bunyoro rabbit
Bunyoro rabbit
(P. marjorita)

Pronolagus (Red rock hares)

Natal red rock hare
Natal red rock hare
(P. crassicaudatus) Jameson's red rock hare
Jameson's red rock hare
(P. randensis) Smith's red rock hare
Smith's red rock hare
(P. rupestris) Hewitt's red rock hare
Hewitt's red rock hare
(P. saundersiae)


Hispid hare
Hispid hare
(C. hispidus)

Lepus (Hares)

Subgenus Macrotolagus: Antelope jackrabbit
Antelope jackrabbit
(L. alleni)

Subgenus Poecilolagus: Snowshoe hare
Snowshoe hare
(L. americanus)

Subgenus Lepus: Arctic hare
Arctic hare
(L. arcticus) Alaskan hare
Alaskan hare
(L. othus) Mountain hare
Mountain hare
(L. timidus)

Subgenus Proeulagus: Black-tailed jackrabbit
Black-tailed jackrabbit
(L. californicus) White-sided jackrabbit
White-sided jackrabbit
(L. callotis) Cape hare
Cape hare
(L. capensis) Tehuantepec jackrabbit
Tehuantepec jackrabbit
(L. flavigularis) Black jackrabbit
Black jackrabbit
(L. insularis) Scrub hare
Scrub hare
(L. saxatilis) Desert hare
Desert hare
(L. tibetanus) Tolai hare
Tolai hare
(L. tolai)

Subgenus Eulagos: Broom hare
Broom hare
(L. castrovieoi) Yunnan hare
Yunnan hare
(L. comus) Korean hare
Korean hare
(L. coreanus) Corsican hare
Corsican hare
(L. corsicanus) European hare
European hare
(L. europaeus) Granada hare
Granada hare
(L. granatensis) Manchurian hare
Manchurian hare
(L. mandschuricus) Woolly hare
Woolly hare
(L. oiostolus) Ethiopian highland hare
Ethiopian highland hare
(L. starcki) White-tailed jackrabbit
White-tailed jackrabbit
(L. townsendii)

Subgenus Sabanalagus: Ethiopian hare
Ethiopian hare
(L. fagani) African savanna hare
African savanna hare
(L. microtis)

Subgenus Indolagus: Hainan hare
Hainan hare
(L. hainanus) Indian hare
Indian hare
(L. nigricollis) Burmese hare
Burmese hare
(L. peguensis)

Subgenus Sinolagus: Chinese hare
Chinese hare
(L. sinensis)

Subgenus Tarimolagus: Yarkand hare
Yarkand hare
(L. yarkandensis)

Subgenus incertae sedis: Japanese hare
Japanese hare
(L. brachyurus) Abyssinian hare
Abyssinian hare
(L. habessinicus)

Taxon identifiers

Wd: Q583901 ADW: Sylvilagus_aquaticus EoL: 970830 Fossilworks: 51907 GBIF: 2436883 iNaturalist: 43116 ITIS: 180121 IUCN: 41296 MSW: 13500285