Marsh Rabbit: (Sylvilagus plaustris)
The marsh rabbit (sylvilagus plaustris) is in the leporidae family. Marsh rabbits are much smaller in size, averaging between 17 inches long, weighing between 2 to 3 pounds.
Marsh rabbits color patterns consist of short blackish brown or dark reddish coarser fur. The marsh rabbits under- fur is brownish gray or dull white. It has small brown eyes, small ears that have black tuft hair on the inside and a small tuft brown tail, that is white on the underside, and large back feet. Marsh rabbits are found throughout Florida. Their preferred habitats are located in freshwater environments. In Florida they are mainly found in the mangroves, saw – grass marshes, canal banks, swamps and sugar – cane fields. They are strictly limited to areas that have access to water, unlike most rabbits.
Marsh rabbits are strictly vegetarians, primarily consume leaves, bulbs, plants, grasses, cattails, rushes and herbs.
Marsh rabbits are solitary, although they have been known to group together in dense areas. Males will fight other males for their territories. They are mainly nocturnal, being more active during dawn and dusk. Marsh rabbits are excellent swimmers. Marsh rabbits walk more than hop like most rabbits do. They can walk on their hind legs for shorts periods at a time. Marsh rabbits have been known to climb. Marsh rabbits in the wild live about 2 to 4 years, however most don’t make ii through their first year. The main cause of death to, marsh rabbits are due to hurricanes and coastal flooding. Although they are heavily preyed upon by alligators, bobcats, foxes and owls. When marsh rabbits become frightened or threatened, they enter the water and swim or float only exposing its noise getting away from any potential threat. On land they run at speeds of 30 mph in a zigzag pattern. Marsh rabbits do not burrow, but have been known to use abandon burrows. They nest in a depression usually in clumps of saw – grass or semi – thick under – brush on the ground. Marsh rabbits communicate by movements such as, leaping, charging, scratching, paw raking and mounting. Marsh rabbits are not known to cause any damage.
Marsh rabbits can mate as young as 9 months old. They breed year round. Mating usually peeks in December through June. They can often have 6 to 7 litters a year. Its gestation period lasts approximately 28 to 37 days days. The average litter size is 2 to 4. The mother has them completely weaned by the time they are 4 weeks old, at which time they begin to leave the nest for good. Marsh rabbits are known to carry parasites such as ticks and some diseases.