Florida Guide > Other Florida
THE MARSH RABBIT
Did you know Rabbits could swim ? Cannot say I have given it much thought.
You might be interested to know that there are rabbits in Florida that swim.
The Marsh Rabbit is just a bit smaller than a “regular” rabbit is reddish brown in colour has short broad ears, small feet and a grey-brown tail. In length it is 16 – 18 inches and can weigh up to 3. 5 pounds. Marsh rabbits are solitary, although individuals may cluster in areas with dense resources.
This little rabbit is found close to water in the Gulf and Atlantic coastal plains of Florida which includes the fresh and salt water marshes and wetlands.
As it is a good strong swimmer, when threatened or frightened it will enter the water and float or swim away from danger with only it’s and nose exposed. When on land it will run in a zig-zag fashion at a speed up to 30 miles per hour.
Another really strange thing it does is walk on it’s hind legs for short periods and it has been known to climb.
Foodwise this little rabbit likes a variety of plants like sedge, broad leaf herbs grasses, weeds and subterranean bulbs.
Most active from dusk to dawn they are a good food source for owls, bobcats, foxes and alligators.
Hurricanes and coastal flooding are the main causes of death to baby marsh rabbits.
Males will fight other marsh rabbits for territories
The main breeding season is December through to June. Female marsh rabbits are apt to be more territorial during the breeding season. The nest is built from rushes, grasses and leaves usually on the ground but can also be found in logs or tree stumps.
The whole nest is lined with rabbit soft fur that is pulled from the breast area.
A litter of 2 – 6 young can be born as often a 10 times a year. The young are weaned in 4 weeks and can reproduce themselves at 9 months old.
The Lower Keys marsh rabbit is a subspecies and is on the protected species list. It is classified as endangered in Florida. Native to the Florida Keys numbers decreased as residential and commercial developement took place on the string of islands off the coast of Florida. The 250 or so individuals remaining face mortality from cats and automobiles.
It is known as the " playboy bunny" because its research was financed in part by the Playboy Foundation.
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