Swamp Rabbit
The Swamp Rabbit is a large cottontail rabbit
Cottontail rabbit
The cottontail rabbits are among the 16 lagomorph species in the genus Sylvilagus, found in the Americas.In appearance, most cottontail rabbits closely resemble the wild European Rabbit...

 found in the swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s and wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s of the Southern United States.


S. aquaticus is similar in appearance to other cottontails, although it is among the largest members of the genus. It is generally brown, with the bottom of its stubby tail colored white. Adult male and female specimens of this species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 weigh between three and six pound
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

s (1.5–2.7 kg
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

). In lagomorphs, the female is commonly larger than the male.

Diet and nesting habits

The swamp rabbit eats reed
Phragmites, the Common reed, is a large perennial grass found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. Phragmites australis is sometimes regarded as the sole species of the genus Phragmites, though some botanists divide Phragmites australis into three or four species...

s, plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s, and grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

es native to its marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

y habitat. The swamp rabbit nests above ground in small dens made of dead plants and lined with its shed fur. When fleeing a predator, the swamp rabbit can run over 45 miles per hour, usually in an evasive zig-zag pattern.

S. aquaticus is a skilled swimmer, often crossing stream
A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

s, pond
A pond is a body of standing water, either natural or man-made, that is usually smaller than a lake. A wide variety of man-made bodies of water are classified as ponds, including water gardens, water features and koi ponds; all designed for aesthetic ornamentation as landscape or architectural...

s and river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s. The semi-aquatic
Aquatic animal
An aquatic animal is an animal, either vertebrate or invertebrate, which lives in water for most or all of its life. It may breathe air or extract its oxygen from that dissolved in water through specialised organs called gills, or directly through its skin. Natural environments and the animals that...

 cottontail will occasionally hide from natural enemies by sitting still in shallow water, exposing only its nose to the air to breathe.

This rabbit leaves characteristic pellet-like droppings atop moss-covered fallen logs throughout its territory.

Carter incident

In 1979 the swamp rabbit species enjoyed a brief stint of notoriety when one swamp rabbit had a close encounter with Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

. In April of that year, as President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Carter was fishing on a small pond on his farm, a visibly agitated swamp rabbit approached his boat and tried to board. Carter used a paddle
A paddle is a tool used for pushing against liquids, either as a form of propulsion in a boat or as an implement for mixing.-Materials and designs:...

 to splash water at the rabbit in order to dissuade it from swimming towards the boat. The press dubbed this the "Killer Rabbit
Rabbit of Caerbannog
The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog is a fictional beast in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is the antagonist in a major setpiece battle, and makes a similar appearance in Spamalot, a musical inspired by the movie...

", in honour of the violent rabbit in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1974 British comedy film written and performed by the comedy group Monty Python , and directed by Gilliam and Jones...

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