Appalachian Cottontail

Sylvilagus obscurus

The Appalachian cottontail (Sylvilagus obscurus) is a medium-sized rabbit (avg length = 16 in; weight = 1.7 - 2.3 lbs) with fine, silky fur. They are commonly found in dense conifer and deciduous forests at higher elevations, and are the only cottontails known to feed heavily on conifer needles. The Appalachian cottontail has a patchy distribution, primarily within the Appalachian Mountains, from Pennsylvania to northeast Georgia.

The Appalachian cottontail looks very similar to the eastern cottontail, distinguishing between the two species can be very difficult. The eastern cottontail is somewhat lighter in color, and often has a white spot on the forehead. The Appalachian cottontail is somewhat smaller, rarely has a white spot, and usually has a black spot between the ears. The New England and Appalachian cottontails also look almost identical, and were thought to be the same species at one time. Biologists now consider them to be separate species. 

 

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Pennsylvania Game Commission
Bureau of Wildlife Management
Attn: Mammal Atlas Coordinator
2001 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
MammalAtlas@pa.gov
Pennsylvania Game Commission
Bureau of Wildlife Management
717-787-5529