|Swamp rabbit range|
S. aquaticus is similar in appearance to other cottontails, although it is among the largest members of the genus. It is generally brown, with the bottom of its stubby tail colored white. Adult male and female specimens of this species weigh between 3 and 6 pounds (1.4 and 2.7 kg). In lagomorphs, the female is commonly larger than the male.
Diet and nesting habits
The swamp rabbit eats reeds, plants, and grasses native to its marshy habitat. The swamp rabbit nests above ground in small dens made of dead plants and lined with its shed fur. When fleeing a predator, such as the American Alligator, the swamp rabbit can run over 45 mph (72 km/h), usually in an evasive zig-zag pattern.
S. aquaticus is a skilled swimmer, often crossing streams, ponds, and rivers. The semiaquatic cottontail will occasionally hide from natural enemies by sitting still in shallow water, exposing only its nose to the air to breathe.
This rabbit leaves characteristic pellet-like droppings atop moss-covered fallen logs throughout its territory.
In 1979, the swamp rabbit species enjoyed a brief stint of notoriety when one swamp rabbit had a close encounter with Jimmy Carter. In April of that year, as President Carter was fishing on a small pond on his farm, a visibly agitated swamp rabbit approached his boat and tried to board. Carter used a paddle to splash water at the rabbit to dissuade it from swimming towards the boat. The press dubbed this the "Killer Rabbit", in honor of the violent rabbit in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Hoffman, R. S.; Smith, A. T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 207–8. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. (2008). "Sylvilagus aquaticus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
- "Swamp Hare". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
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