Marsh Rabbits and Eastern Cottontails

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

Eastern Cottontail

Marsh Rabbits and Eastern Cottontails are two types of rabbits commonly found in Southwest Florida. There are a few key differences between these species that can help you identify them properly, such as size, coloring, and territory.

Marsh rabbits are overall smaller in size than Eastern Cottontails. Marsh rabbits are uniformly dark brown in color and have short ears when compared to cottontails. Marsh Rabbits usually reside in areas near bodies of brackish or fresh water, such as mangroves, swamps, sloughs, and marshes.

They are excellent swimmers and will swim to avoid predators. They typically walk on all fours and don’t always “hop” the way Eastern Cottontails do, resulting in a stance keeping them higher off the ground due to the position of their haunches.

On the other hand, Eastern Cottontails are larger than marsh rabbits and differ from them physically as well. They are gray in color, except for their bushy white tail- their namesake. They have larger back feet than marsh rabbits, since they hop around as opposed to walking. They are found in grassy areas where they graze on the grasses and vegetation. Cottontails are not known for swimming like the Marsh Rabbit.

On July 8, a juvenile Marsh Rabbit (22-3546) was admitted from LaBelle after a cat attack. The rabbit has been undergoing intensive care including daily wound management and bandage changes. Hospital staff will continue to administer antibiotics, pain medication, daily nutrition, and enrichment while the rabbit recovers and progress can be analyzed to make best interest care decisions.

Cats host deadly bacteria in their mouths and the punctures from their teeth can foster pockets of deep infection. If you see a cat with a wild animal in their mouth, please immediately contact your nearest wildlife rehab center to get the wild animal proper preventative care.

On July 19, a juvenile Eastern Cottontail (22-3792) was admitted from Cape Coral after being found stuck to a glue trap. Upon admission, the rabbit was stuck to the towel and box they arrived in with their forelimbs and hindlimbs glued together. Hospital staff anesthetized the rabbit to reduce stress during the glue removal process.

Dr. Laura Kellow sprinkled chinchilla dust on the adhesive areas to prevent them from becoming further stuck. She then used peanut butter, warm water with Dawn dish soap, and clean mascara wands to remove the glue from the rabbit’s fur.

Once most of the glue was removed, Dr. Laura dusted another layer of chinchilla dust to prevent the remaining glue from sticking and blow dried the rabbit to warm them up. Though they were able to remove most of the adhesive, the rabbit will likely need another round of removal before they are ready for release.

This rabbit was lucky but still walked away with painful wounds from the glue trap. To free themselves from the trap, the rabbit had ripped the fur from their skin. Glue traps are cruel and inhumane, please consider alternatives to these traps such as soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil and placing them near problem areas. The strong aroma of the peppermint oil will surely have any insects or tiny critters turning tail in the other direction.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (7/15-7/22):
There were 137 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including six northern raccoons, four eastern cottontails, two mourning doves, a diamondback terrapin, two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a laughing gull, a black racer snake, two eastern screech owl, and three Virginia Opossums. Recent Releases include a great blue heron, four loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings, a Black Racer snake, three Florida Softshell Turtles, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance. Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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