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Western Brush Rabbit

Sylvilagus bachmani

Brush Rabbit


The brush rabbit is smaller than many of the other cottontails, and unlike most of them, the underside of its tail is grey rather than white (which may be why its common name does not include the word “cottontail”). The upper side of the brush rabbit’s fur varies from light brown to gray in color, while the underside is usually always white. Adult rabbit’s measures anywhere from 10-14 inches long and rarely weigh over 2 pounds.


The brush rabbit inhabits dense, brushy cover, most commonly in chaparral vegetation. It also occurs in oak and conifer habitats and it will live in brush or grassland, and form networks of runways through the vegetation. The brush rabbit does not dig its own burrow or den, but uses the burrow of other species, brush piles, or forms. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it was found that the brush rabbit concentrates its activities at the edge of brush and exhibits much less use of grassy areas. It uses the interior brush of the wilderness and it was also found that this may be a better environment for it than the chaparral one. Studies done on the brush rabbit in Oregon also showed that it rarely left the brushy areas it inhabits.


Brush rabbits are herbivorous. They graze on a wide variety of grasses and forbs (e.g., clovers, foxtails, bromes, thistles) in grasslands, meadows, and riparian areas, always within, or very close to, dense brushy cover. Brush rabbits also browse, especially in fall and winter, on tender leaves, twigs, buds, and bark of blackberry, wild rose, and other species.


A trapping study of the brush rabbit in the Berkley Hills in northern California indicated that males had a 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 for males and just under .5 acres for females. The shape of these home ranges is 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. Several rabbits have been observed to feed in the same area simultaneously, but maintain inter-individual distances of 1 to 24 feet before aggressive chases occurred. It has been shown that females tended to not overlap while males showed relatively extensive overlapping and this may indicate that females are territorial.  Groups of brush rabbits may serve social purposes, such as predator detection, but this has not been proven.

Predators and survival techniques

Its predators include the coyote, foxes, the cougar, the bobcat, weasels, and various raptors and snakes. Its survival strategies include remaining immobile, when in brushy areas, and zigzag running when found and/or in open spaces.


Brush rabbit, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brush Rabbit, California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System, California Depart. Of Fish & Game, California Interagency Wildlife Task Group