Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


april 21, 2001 - Issue 34



How Rabbit got his Cotton Tail

Long, long ago, Rabbit had a long, busy tail like other animals.

"I have the most beautiful tail in the world," he liked to say.

Rabbit was feeling very excited one day. All around him snowflakes floated like feathers. He ran through the flakes. And, he darted around the Willow Tree.

"Look at me," he laughed. "When I run, my tail is more beautiful than ever."

Rabbit ran and ran and sang,"

"It snows! It snows! If only it keeps snowing, I will run and run and run!!"

And that's just what Rabbit did. The faster the snow fell, the faster Rabbit ran. Rabbit, with his beautiful, bushy tail, ran all day long. The snow got deeper and deeper.

Finally, it began to get dark. Rabbit looked for a place to rest beneath a bush. But so much snow had fallen, that all the bushes were hiding under it. Rabbit stood on top of the pile of snow.

"Look at me! Now, I am as tall as the Willow Tree."

Then Rabbit laughed and said, "I am so tall that I can reach Willow Tree's green buds."

Because Rabbit was hungry, he nibbled one of the buds. Then, he nibbled another one.

"Yum Yum!!"

Rabbit ate and ate until his belly was very round. Then he laid down on a branch and fell asleep in the Willow Tree.

Rabbit was so tired from all of his running, that he didn't wake up when Sun rose over the hills. He didn't wake up when Sun's hot rays melted the snow. He didn't wake up until all the snow was gone.

Then, Rabbit opened his eyes wide. He looked down at the ground.

"Where are the flakes that look like feathers? Where is that deep, deep snow?"

Spring had arrived. On the ground, all of the tasty plants had turned green. But there was Rabbit, stuck high in the Willow Tree.

"A rabbit shouldn't be in a tree like a bird," he said, "A rabbit should be on the ground with the tasty plants."

But, the ground was very far away. Rabbit leaned over to look down. But, he leaned too far and fell out of the Willow Tree. He landed on his paws, then head first on the ground.

When Rabbit landed on his front paws, they became short. When he landed on his head, his lip split in two. BUT, worse of all, when Rabbit fell through the tree, his tail got caught in the branches.

Rabbit looked up from the ground.

"OH NO!!" cried Rabbit. "I've lost my beautiful, long, fluffy tail!"

And sure enough, Rabbit's tail was high above. It hung from the very top of the Willow Tree.

Poor Rabbit. He tried and tried, but he just couldn't reach his beautiful tail.

Now, Rabbit, and all of his grandchildren hop-hop-hop on short front legs. Now, rabbits have split lips and very short tails

Now the Pussy Willow grows lots and lots of little rabbit tails on her branches to let us know that spring has come. And to remind us what can happen if we are too proud, like Rabbit was about his tail.

And, now, rabbits never, never climb trees.

 Print and Color Your Own Rabbit:

Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Eastern Cottontails are the best-known and most widely distributed rabbit of North America.

Eastern Cottontail rabbits have long ears and a short, fluffy tall. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs with hind feet that are significantly larger than the front feet. The upper body is usually reddish brown with the underparts white, including the underside of the tall. There is a rusty colored patch on the nape of the neck and often a white spot on the forehead. Eastern Cottontails usually weigh from 2 to 4 pounds and have a total length of 12 to almost 20 inches.

Eastern Cottontails are herbivorous, eating a wide variety of plant materials. In spring and summer they usually feed on herbaceous plants such as succulent wild grasses and clover, but will also eat garden vegetables if available. In winter, Cottontails may eat woody plants including staghorn sumac, red maple, apple, and blackberry.

You may see a cottontail at any time of the day or night but the rabbit is most active at dusk and dawn. Its activity during midday is greatly decreased unless the sky is heavily overcast.

Different behavior patterns are used by a threatened rabbit. If the danger is far away, it may freeze and remain motionless, using its background as camouflage. When the threat is near, the rabbit moves quickly to nearby thick cover such as a thicket or brushpile. When comered, it may thump its pursuer with a hind foot to stun it and then make a break for freedom. Arabbit may make a shrill, high-pitched squeal when it is captured.

A cottontail may easily go into shock when captured. A person who finds it necessary to handle a couontail should cover the captured or injured rabbit's eyes and handle it very slowly and carefully.

A cottontail produces two types of droppings -- hard and brown or soft and green. The softer pellets are eaten again to further break down food. This is called coprophagy.

The Eastern Cottontail is a prolific breeder. Although females are capable of breeding during their first year, most have their first litters during their second summer. Litter sizes up to l0 have been reported, but typical litters number from 3 to 5 young, born after a gestation period of about 28 days. In some warmer climates, Cottontails may breed year round (some females have been reported to have up to 7 litters a year!), but in the Carolinas the breeding season is limited from late winter to fall. Cottontails construct their nests by digging a shallow depression in the ground and then lining it with grasses and other plants, along with fur plucked from the female's belly. Young
Cottontails are blind at birth and their eyes remain closed until they are about a week old. Baby rabbits leave the nest and can survive on their own by the time they are 3 to 4 weeks old. Eastern Cottontails are most likely to be found In and around old, overgrown fields, brushy forest edges and other habitats with mixtures of herbaceous and shrubby plants. They can also be found living in close proximity to humans as long as there is adequate escape cover available.

Despite their speed and skill in evading their enemies, Cottontails are taken In large numbers by foxes, bobcats, several species of hawks and owls, and large snakes. The Eastern Cottontail rabbit is also the most widely hunted game animal in the eastern United States. Domestic dogs and cats catch and kill many cottontails, especially the young. Although Cottontail populations fluctuate widely from place to place and from year to year, healthy populations can usually be maintained as long as there is suitable habitat.

Eastern Cottontail




  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.



The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.