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Marsh Rabbit Sylvilagus palustris


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Marsh Rabbit
credit: Tomfriedel/CCSA

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Family: Leporidae, Hares and Rabbits view all from this family

Description Smaller than Swamp Rabbit, with a dingy underside of tail (rarely white). Dainty feet are red to buff in color. Back, rump, upper tail, and hind legs are chestnut brown to rusty red; back of neck is dark cinnamon; abdomen is white, rest of belly is buff to brown.

Dimensions 425-440mm, 33-39mm, 1.2-2.0kg

Endangered Status The Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit, a subspecies of the Marsh Rabbit, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Florida. As with a number of species native to the Florida Keys, this rabbit's decline coincided with the residential and commercial development of the string of islands off the coast of Florida. While it once lived on many of the lower Keys, it now lives on only a handful. The 250 or so individuals remaining face mortality from cats and automobiles, as well as the continued loss of habitat. Because they live west of the Seven Mile Bridge, they are essentially stranded while their habitat shrinks around them.

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries, Swamps, marshes & bogs, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams

Range Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida

Discussion Florida Keys subspecies (S. p. hefneri) Endangered. More active at night than in the daytime. Nests of soft grasses lined with rabbit fur are found among sedges at the water’s edge. Uses swamps, lake borders, and other wet areas, in lowlands below 150m elevation. More common in brackish water areas, especially marshes with hummocks of vegetation. Frequently found in cattail marshes.