While driving to work one morning, I spotted three adorable rabbits hopping across the road. This reminded me of the belief that seeing a rabbit is considered lucky because they symbolize fertility, luck, creativity, compassion, and intuition. It's also a sign that spring has returned to New York!

If you're interested in learning more about the types of rabbits you're likely to see in New York, let's take a closer look.

Cottontail Rabbits

In New York, there are two species of cottontails - the eastern cottontail and the native New England cottontail. The eastern cottontail can be found in fields, farms, and forest edges, while the New England cottontail thrives in dense thicket habitats. Cottontails are named for their short, brown, and whitetails. Their coats are made up of multiple-colored hairs, giving them a brown, speckled appearance. Unlike the snowshoe hare, cottontails remain brown throughout the year.

Cottontail Rabbit via Canva

To tell the difference between the eastern cottontail and the New England cottontail, you can look for markings on the forehead or between the ears. The eastern cottontail usually has a white blaze on the forehead, while the New England cottontail has a faint black patch between the ears.

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Snowshoe Hares

Snowshoe hares can be found in the Adirondacks and have a relatively low reproductive rate. Females have three litters from May to July, each with only 2-3 young. The gestation period lasts 37 days, and the newborns weigh around 3 ounces and measure 4 inches in length. Despite being born fully furred and capable of hopping shortly after birth, the female hare does not create a special nest for them.

Snowshoe Hare via Canva
Snowshoe Hare via Canva

Mortality Among Wild Rabbits

Unfortunately, the survival rate of young rabbits is quite low. On average, only 20 to 25% of them make it through their first year. When including adult mortality, about 85% of the rabbit population dies each year. This natural balance and mortality factors prevent the population from experiencing exponential growth.

Helping Wild Rabbits Survive

Since rabbits have many predators, including humans, it's important to take steps to help them survive. Some ways to assist rabbits, as well as other wildlife, include keeping cats inside and dogs supervised outside, being cautious when driving to avoid hitting animals, and avoiding the use of rodenticides and harmful poisons. Even simple acts like leaving bushes and bramble along your property's perimeter can provide refuge for rabbits from predators.

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