Brush rabbit

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Brush rabbit

The brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani), or western brush rabbit, or Californian brush rabbit, is a species of cottontail rabbit found in western coastal regions of North America, from the Columbia River in Oregon to the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. Its range extends as far east as the eastern sides of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.


The riparian brush rabbit is a medium to small cottontail. Its back is dark brown to gray. Its belly is white.

Adults are about 30 to 37.5 centimeters long. (11 to 14 inches) They weigh 500 to 800 grams. (1.1 to 1.8 pounds)

Have you seen desert cottontails? (They don’t always live in the desert.) Brush rabbits have smaller tails. Desert cottontails’ ears have black tips. Brush rabbits’ ears don’t. See side by side pictures by Laurissa Hamilton.


As their name implies, brush rabbits are primarily found in areas with dense brushy cover. Brush rabbits rarely leave the brush for extended periods of time.


Brush Rabbits mainly feed on grasses, clover and berries but they also eat woody vegetation during the winter months.


A Brush rabbit is active year round and is mainly crepuscular. It comes out of its brush area after sunset, remaining active until very early in the morning. It hardly ever comes out in the afternoon, and is resting for most of that time. However, in nice weather, Brush rabbits can be seen basking in the sun. Brush rabbits are a gregarious species while foraging, but are mostly solitary. They live in individual home ranges, male home ranges being on average bigger than female home ranges.


A trapping study of the brush rabbit in the Berkeley Hills in northern California indicated that males had larger home ranges than females at all times of the year, and especially in May when females were moving the least. It is estimated the home ranges of the Brush Rabbit average just under 1-acre (4,000 m2) for males and just under 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) for females.

The shape of these home ranges are usually circular but depending on the vegetation can be different in size and shape. Range use probably is not circular in shape or uniform, but rather consists of a series of runways that directly connect high use areas within brush habitat. Intraspecific socio-spatial behavior appears to be variable and may reflect local resource conditions.

Physical Description

Brush rabbits are a small to medium sized cottontail. The pelage is evenly dark, consisting of steel gray, black, and orange. The ears are fairly small with a slight point. The tail is not prominent, on the top it is the same dark brown and white underneath.

Brush rabbit images

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