Invasive Species Council of British Columbia
Invasive Animal

Eastern cottontail rabbit

Sylvilagus floridanus

About This Species

Eastern cottontail rabbits are a small to medium sized rabbit that eat a range of vegetation, including young trees. They are native to Eastern and Central North America and were introduced into BC in the 1960s. They are considered a serious threat to sensitive Garry Oak habitats on Vancouver Island and are also known to feed on several at-risk plant species such as Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), Yellow montane violet (Viola praemorsa), and White-top aster (Sericocarpus rigidus). Eastern cottontail rabbits are designated as a Management species by the BC Provincial Priority Invasive Species List. 

Eastern cottontail rabbits’ average lifespans can be from 1-3 years. They reproduce rapidly, capable of 3-4 litters during their lives, with up to 8 offspring per litter. 

How to Identify

Eastern cottontail rabbits have grey-brown fur with rusty-red patches between the ears and shoulders. Their tails are brown on top and white underneath. Adult rabbits are typically 44 cm long. 

Take Action

Prevention is the best approach.

prevention tips


European cottontail rabbits often use the invasive shrubs Scotch broom (Cystius scoparisu) and English hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) as shelter. Removing these plants from your property will make it less appealing to these rabbits.


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