Scientific name: Sylvilagus palustris hefneri
The marsh rabbit is a small cottontail rabbit found in marshes and swamps of coastal regions of the Eastern and Southern United States. It is a strong swimmer and found only near regions of water. It is similar in appearance to the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) but is characterized by smaller ears, legs, and tail.
The marsh rabbit commonly inhabits brackish and freshwater marshes, mainly of cattails and cypress. In southern Florida, they commonly occupy sandy islands and mangrove swamps. They are strictly limited to regions with ready access to water, unlike most rabbits. Often, they will enter tidal marshes, but remain near high ground for protection. Normal hiding spots include dense thickets of magnolia, black-gum, sweet-gum, briers, and cattails.
Marsh rabbits are strictly herbivorous. Typically, they feed on leaves and bulbs of marsh plants including cattails, rushes, and grasses. They can also feed on other aquatic or marsh plants such as centella, greenbrier vine, marsh pennywort, water hyacinth, wild potato, and amaryllis.
One very distinguishing habit of marsh rabbits is that they walk on all fours, placing each foot down alternately like a cat. Although they can hop like all rabbits, they are more agile in dense vegetation with this walking tendency.
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