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Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).—(Top) Jane Burton/Bruce Coleman Inc., (bottom) Steve and Dave Maslowski
Any small, bounding, gnawing mammal of the family Leporidae. Rabbits have long ears, a short tail, long hind legs, and continuously growing incisors. Most species are gray or brown and range in size from 10 to 18 in. (25 to 45 cm) long and 1 to 4 lb (0.5 to 2 kg). They feed primarily on grasses. Their reproductive rate is very high; unlike hares, rabbits are born blind, hairless, and helpless. Most species are nocturnal and live alone in burrows. However, the European, or Old World, rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus; of Europe and Asia) lives in warrens consisting of many burrows; this species is the ancestor to all domestic breeds. The 13 North American species called cottontails (genus Sylvilagus) have white on the underside of the tail.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on rabbit, visit Britannica.com.