For starters, a jackrabbit is not a rabbit, but a hare. It is named after its large antenna-like ears that resemble that of a jackass. On the other hand, the cottontail rabbit is named after its fluffy white tail that resembles a ball of cotton. Though they both live in nests above the ground, these two animals are very different in several aspects. Continue reading to know more about their differences:
If you look closely, you will realize that the two are very different in size. Jackrabbits are about four times larger than the cottontails. Other than size their overall size, another obvious physical difference between these two is the size of their ears. The ears of jackrabbits are so distinctive. They are much larger and pointed. When they are lying down, their ears usually reach the knees. However, the ears of cottontails are not larger than their heads.
The jackrabbits don not dig burrows underground to bear their young ones. Instead, the females look for a safe place, mostly under a shrub or other dense covers to give birth. The young ones are born fully furred with their eyes open. They are able to fend for themselves immediately after birth.
In contrast, cottontail rabbits dig nests, line them with fur from their bellies and give birth to blind, hairless and helpless babies. When they leave, they hide the young ones from predators by covering the nests with twigs. On average a newborn jack weighs 80-100 grams, while cottontail newborns weigh only 30 grams at birth.
Jackrabbits survive in the jungle by being slippery. They have long and large powerful hind legs that enable them to run very fast and jump incredibly high. This way, they are able to escape their predators easily. One of their survival tactics is to run towards a cactus and then jump over it. Cottontails on the other hand, hide from predators by staying in underground burrows during the day. However, they come outside to eat between dusk and dawn.
Jackrabbits eat shrubs, bark, grasses and other vegetation with high water content. Because of this, they usually need very little water. On the other hand, cottontails are nocturnal herbivorous that eat just about any plant. They are not picky and will eat twigs, flowers, branches, grasses, leaves, seeds, buds, stems and leaves among others. They drink more water daily than jackrabbits.
With these differences in mind, it should be much easier for you to distinguish between a jackrabbit and cottontail from now on.