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Marsh Rabbits

True to its name, the marsh rabbit is found in the marshes and swamps of the Eastern and Southern United States. Our marsh rabbits — not to be confused with the larger swamp rabbits of Alabama through Texas — are delicate little things. Those on the Florida peninsula, and in South Florida in particular, weigh only 2-3 pounds, reaching a total length of 17 inches. “Mainland” (non-Florida) marsh rabbits run noticeably larger. Florida’s marsh rabbits have shorter ears, and smaller legs than the swamp rabbits and cottontails — and instead of a bushy, cottonball-tail, the tail forms a tuft. They’re also darker in coloration than eastern cottontails.

What’s so interesting about our marsh rabbits, as their name signifies, is their proclivity to water — swimming often and well, sometimes for long distances. It’s common to see them in the shallow waters of our wetlands scrounging for food. Another interesting feature of marsh rabbits is that they walk on all fours, like a cat — ensuring easy and swift negotiation of the dense marshes and the surrounding vegetation. Their preferred habitats are the brackish and freshwater marshes, mangrove swamps, and sandy islands. These rabbits must have access to water, remaining on high ground and in the thick vegetation for protection from predators including alligators, snakes, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and birds of prey. They’re most active at dusk and at night, eating the abundant wetland and aquatic plants.

They’re truly adorable little things; even the strong-like-bull human male can’t resist yelping “bunnies!” when we’re walking the wetlands, or hiking the swamps, and one creeps into view. And the baby marsh rabbits? Cuteness factor through the roof. I like to call them swamp bunnies, much to the chagrin of uptight naturalists who may be listening in on my insanity. I just snapped a few babies, as it’s of course baby season…. So the adorableness will soon be shared.

Marsh Rabbit in South Florida’s Wetlands

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. marialla #

    I like the term marsh bunnies because I think that all sweet nicknames with which we endow the beings of Mother Nature endears these beings to us and increases our likely hood of looking upon and respecting all of the creatures with whom we share this wonderful earth. Thank you!! I look forward to seeing the babies!!

    May 23, 2012
    • You couldn’t have said it BETTER, and more beautifully! I thoroughly, wholeheartedly agree with you. ♥ The babies are just the sweetest things ever… I was lucky to sneak up particularly close to one, hee!

      May 23, 2012
  2. Joseph #

    Yay..Marsh Rabbits ! My 8 year olds absolutely favorite animal to see in the wetlands .we got to see the babies this year as well. Great post as always!

    May 23, 2012
    • 🙂 Thanks so much!! I love them… How can you not?!? Especially the marsh rabbit babies. Ridiculously adorable. I wasn’t able to get good shots of the really young’uns, but I did get a good one of an older baby…!

      May 23, 2012
  3. Enjoyed the stron-like-bull bunnie-yeping male. Looking forward to swamp bunnies.

    May 23, 2012
    • Heh…! Fortunately, he’s an editor, and tires quickly of words by end-of-day — so he won’t even know it was written. But nor can he DENY.

      May 23, 2012
  4. I learned something new today because I did not know rabbits liked to be in or near water – interesting – thanks for sharing. Have a Great Day!

    May 23, 2012
    • I’m so glad! These guys are definitely a bit unusual — especially so, being excellent swimmers, even — but they’re bred for our marshes and swamps. It IS odd to see rabbits in the shallow waters still, though…. 🙂

      May 23, 2012
  5. Learn great things from you all the time – thanks!

    May 23, 2012
    • You’re so welcome — I’m glad you enjoyed!

      May 23, 2012
  6. When I got to your blog this morning, I saw “Marsh Rabbits” and right above it was an alligator/crocodile. I felt so sorry for the marsh rabbits. Then I realized that they were not connected. I chuckled.

    May 25, 2012
    • Hahahah!!! Well, it would have been a battle, because that was a baby alligator. That’s so funny, though. 🙂

      May 25, 2012
  7. Completely fascinating, thank you! I have 8 “house rabbits” of all different kinds and I see that the marsh rabbits are built quite differently at the back end, than the pet rabbit. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    May 29, 2012
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, many thanks! Eight house rabbits!

      Our marsh rabbits really are unique… They’re diminutive critters (and like you said, different in the back-end), and to see them in the shallow waters is still a funny sight, as long as I’ve lived here.

      May 30, 2012

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