Brush Rabbit Care Sheet

Brush Rabbit Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Brush Rabbit
Scientific Name:Sylvilagus bachmani
Life Span:2 years
Size (Adult):25 to 25 cms (10 to 14 inches)
Weight (Adult):Up to 0.9 kgs (2 lbs)
Habitat:Dense brushy cover
Country of Origin:North America

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Physical Description

The brush rabbit is a kind of rabbit that has a small to medium-sized cottontail. These rabbits are a kind of cottontail rabbits that are smallest among any other cottontails. Its fur is constantly dark, which contains a steel gray color with a black and orange. Its tail is not that bulging, and on top of it is the constant dark brown and white color on its bottom, while its ears are adequately small with a little point.

This rabbit extent in length from about 11 inches to 14 ½ inches, and can weigh up to 0.9 kgs or 2 lbs. The female brush rabbit is commonly slight bigger than the males. The type of their tooth is 2/1, 3/2, 3/3 that has the total number of 28. Its other physical features are endothermic means decalescent energy-absorbing and endothermal heat-absorbing endoergic and bilateral symmetry that means those animals that have a dorsal side. This rabbit has short legs and a short tail. A young brush rabbit is called a bunny, kit, kitten, leveret, or nestling. A group of brush rabbits is called a warren, nest, colony, bevy, bury, dove, or trace. Pick your favorite.

General Head Structure

Head and Neck

The ears of a brush rabbit are usually medium-sized, it is about 5.5 cm, the ears may vary in different size among this species, but they are generally in medium length for a Lagomorpha. All rabbits relatively have large ears. Its medium-length ears are slightly pointed. The male rabbits have the ear of about 45 to 63 mm, while a female rabbit has 54-61 mm (mean 58 mm).

When talking about its teeth, rabbits and hares have a total number of 28 teeth. Its lower tooth rows are generally closer together than its upper tooth rows. This kind of rabbit may differ from rodents by having the same two pairs of upper incisors kind of than just one air. The further set of its incisors are called the peg teeth and its found directly behind the long pair in its upper jaw.

At birth, these brush rabbits actually have already three pairs of upper incisors, but they rapidly lose their outer incisor on each side. The upper tooth roots are generally found in the skull’s premaxillary bones. But, the length of these lower teeth, roots may vary. Peg teeth are commonly lack of a cutting edge, while the first upper tooth has a straight cutting edge. They are ready to chew food at any time, having very strong teeth.


The brush rabbit’s eyes are typically positioned that promotes a good broad-field vision. Also, brush rabbits have large eyes, which they adapted to both of its nocturnal activity patterns and crepuscular. These rabbits have their eyes larger for them to be able to increase their vision in dim light. So, you know that rabbits are really gifted when it comes to night vision, allowing them to freely play and do their activities even if it’s dark.


The brush rabbits are mostly crepuscular and are active within a year. They remain active until to a very early in the morning, and they usually come out of their brush area after the sunset. They may come out once more in a few hours later till late morning. They once in a while come out in the afternoon, but they spent most of their time resting. Even so, during a nice day, the brush rabbits may be observed that they laze under the sun.

These rabbits are cautious and uncommunicative animals. They usually utilize lair, runways, and even tunnels, even if they are not as broadly as other members of their kind. When it feels frightening, the brush rabbit’s trait response is its foot thumping. They may continue to thump for several minutes. When you go after to these rabbits, they usually climb trees and scrubs. The sound that the brush rabbits used when they are scared or when they are in pain is sometimes squeals or cries.

To secure themselves from their predator, these brush rabbits can sit superbly unmoving for such a long period of time. They run in a zigzag way at about 20 to 25 miles per hour when they feel threatened.

Despite the fact that these organized species when searching, these brush rabbits are mostly solitary. These rabbits live in separate home ranges; a male rabbit home ranges about an average larger than a female one. These species also look for their food alone or usually within a small group. Unlike other cottontail species, brush rabbits are not hunted for food and are not considered a pest to crops.

Parental Behaviour

The male brush rabbits are not generally involved in taking care of a young rabbit. But still, if there are adult rabbits attack to a young rabbit, males will intervene, this kind of behavior is called as ‘policing.’ Even when it comes to the maternal care of a young rabbit, this is not particularly well-known to a rabbit; consequently, this reproductive plan of action is known as ‘absentee parentism.’

 The brush rabbits show an uncommon system of nursing. The young brush rabbit is suckled only in a short time, usually less than five minutes just once during a day. It is said that the lack so social contact between a mother rabbit with her young is a plan of action that diminishes the chances of luring the attention of the brush rabbit’s predators. The main entrances to a breeding tunnel are delicately re-sealed following each about of suckling.

The most species of female brush rabbits dig nest holes for about 100 to 150 mm deep and about 120 mm wide. These holes are sometimes slanted, and it both lined and covered with soft plant fibers and the female’s own fur, which it plucks from females underside. The female brush rabbits also do not want themselves to live in the nest. To feed the young rabbits, female rabbit crouches over their nest and kits climbing to the top of their nest to nurse. The female feeds its young baby only at night.


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Their names are derived from their habitat, these rabbits like brushy environment and habitually often roam that is out in the open. They usually like to just stay close to their homes and cover for their safety. Brush rabbits are usually found in Western Coastal Regions of North America. These kinds of rabbits do not cultivate burrows just like any other species of rabbits, but they cover in thick brushy cover. They are generally nocturnal. 

A close-in study with a brush rabbit in Berkley Hills in Northern California specifies that the males have a wide-ranging home than the females within the year, especially for the most part of the month of May when the female rabbit was moving the slightest. Usually, the shape of its home ranges is circular, but it depends on the vegetation that can be very different in shape and size.

The estimated average of a male brush rabbit home ranges is just about under 1 acre or 4,000 m2 while the female brush rabbit is just under 0.5 acres or 2,000 m2. The span used possibly is not in circular with the shape or uniform but preferably contains a series of runways that straight connected in high used areas inside them brush habitat. Various rabbits have been noticed to feed in a similar zone at once, but sustained inter-individual distances of one to 24 feet (7.3 m) before offensive chases happened. 

A variety of brush rabbits may assist a social basis, including predator detection, but this has not been tested. It also shows that the females are most liable to not overlap while males signify that they are relatively substantial overlapping, and this may indicate that the females are more territorial than males. The population levels may vary distinctly between species from year to year, depend upon the climate, habitat type, and some other factors. Cottontails can be liable to be cyclic in abundance; it is said that the key to a cottontail abundance is its habitat.

Habits and Lifestyle

Brush rabbits come out of their brush area after the sun sets, and they remain active until the next morning. Also, they rarely come out in the afternoon. They are resting most of the time. It the weather is nice, Brush rabbits are usually seen sunbathing. Brush rabbits are a sociable rabbit species when foraging, but are usually solitary. They reside in individual home ranges, wherein male home ranges are typically bigger as compared to female home ranges.

Also, brush rabbits are secretive and wary. They use tunnels, burrows, and runways – but not much like the others in their genus. Also, when they’re frightened, their response is usually foot thumping, which may go on for several minutes. When they are scared or in pain, they usually cry and let out squeals.

13 Subspecies of Brush Rabbit

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Within the species of brush rabbits, there are thirteen(13) recognized subspecies.

These different subspecies are found in the following areas:

Sylvilagus bachmani peninsularis

It is found in southern Baja California from El Crucero south.

Sylvilagus bachmani bachmani

This subspecies is first found on the Central California coast between the Salinas River and Morro.

Sylvilagus bachmani ubericolor

It’s found in California and western Oregon between the Columbia River, which is north to San Francisco Bay in the southern part, and east to the summit of the Cascade Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Sylvilagus bachmani exiguous

This subspecies is found in central Baja California from El Crucero north to about San Vincente.

Sylvilagus bachmani cerrosensis

This brush rabbit is found in Cedros Island and Baja California (in Mexico)

Sylvilagus bachmani howelli

It is found in Baja California from about the California-Mexico border south along the Sierra de Juarez Mountains to about San Vincente.

Sylvilagus bachmani riparius

This species is near Vernalis in Stanislaus County of California.

Sylvilagus bachmani mariposae

This subspecies of brush rabbit is found foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California from the beautiful town of Sacramento to Bakersfield.

Sylvilagus bachmani virgulti

This brush rabbit is found in the central California coast range within Berkeley and Mariposa.

Sylvilagus bachmani macrorhinus

This subspecies is found in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, California

Sylvilagus bachmani cinerascens

It’s found in Southwestern California from about Bakersfield to extreme northern Baja California.

Sylvilagus bachmani rosaphagus

It is found in Baja California along the coastal plain between Ensenada and Rosario, Mexico.

Sylvilagus bachmani tehamae

This subspecies of brush rabbit is found in the northern part of Klamath Falls of Oregon southward along the eastern side of the coast range to Sacramento, California, and from about Redding, California, south along with the Sierra Nevada range to about Placerville.

Eating Habits

These Brush Rabbits are herbivores and mostly eat grasses and broad-leafed or also known as forbs, barks, leaves, scrubs like wild rose and blackberries, they also like green clovers, and they often look food in shrubs, meadows, and in riparian areas. Whenever food is available, they prefer to eat green clover. Though these rabbits mainly eat grasses, they also eat woody vegetation during the winter months; they browse in a tender leaf, buds, and twigs.

Like mentioned earlier, brush rabbits are herbivores that often eat plants, and their diet is varied upon the season. A little hint, these brush rabbits eat plant seeds, and when they eat, they poop out seeds and fertilizer, so they make more plants. Rabbits are well-suited for maintaining the greatest possible value of their food. The two kinds of fecal materials include dry pellets and moist pellets. The moist pellets tend to let out and then eaten, this is commonly done with little or no chewing, and as a result, the majority of the food passes through its digestive tract twice. While the dry fecal pellets are not to be eaten.

These rabbits are very cautious when it comes to emerging from dense cover to feed. Generally, these brush rabbits will stay just inside its brush before it proceeds into a close-by open area to feed and having entered the open feeding area. They habitually stay motionless, until they appear to watch for any signs that are showing danger. 

There are maybe several rabbits feeding in an area at one time. The newly-grown tips of the plants are the preferred food of rabbits, it will rise up its hind legs, and the tip then used its teeth to draw in into their mouth.

The following are brush rabbit’s known foods:

  • During the month of September, its food was creeping eragrostis and a Spike Rush.
  • In San Francisco valley, there’s its known food called Foxtail grass, soft chess grass, and an Avena fatua or oats.
  • When winter season, there’s a new grass available, with Trifolium involucratum or a Cloveri preferred when there’s available.
  • These brush rabbits also eat thistles and shrubs, including blackberries (Rubus) and wild rose (Rosa).


Brush Rabbit breeds in a year-round, and they can generally have around up to 5 offspring per year; however, 2 – 3 litters are possible. The breeding season for brush rabbits is usually starting in the month of December and lasts until the month of May or June in California. 

While in Oregon, the breed starts from the month of February to August. Mostly they breed again in a while after giving birth. This species of the rabbit is not as productive, just like other members of its genus.

The gestation periods takes about 27 days, with offspring sizes that commonly 2 up to 4 young. The baby rabbit born altricial, and they continue to be in a lined and covered nest for about 14 days until they open their eyes on a maximum day of 10.

The mother rabbit has about 4 pairs of mammae or nipple, and it commonly comes at night to feed its young babies. Full growth is reached once they are about 4 to 5 months after their birth. The young brush rabbits can able to breed on the following breeding season. The average age of reproductive maturity of a female rabbit is 154 days. It has been distinguished that the numbers of eastern cottontails were brought about west to emulate and supply a food source for the habitant. 


There is induced ovulation in a brush rabbits species. Brush rabbits also do synchronized breeding; there also believed that post-partum oestrus has occurred.

Gestation or Pregnancy

Under adverse conditions like during climatic or in social stress, the female brush rabbit is able to resorb a fertilized egg. It is also thought that few of a brush rabbit has the ability to conceive a second litter before its last young baby is born, which is called as ‘superfetation.’ The gestation period may last up to 24 to 30 days, but the approximate gestation is commonly 27 days. 

In California (United States of America), the pregnant female rabbit has been reported between the month of December and June. While in Oregon also in the USA, the pregnant female rabbit has been reported between the month of mid-February to mid-August.


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The newborn rabbits are born with very little or usually no fur, and its eyes stay closed until 4 up to 10 days after its birth. Rabbits produce nidicolous little kittens, which are born into their fur-lined nests that built either in advance cover or sometimes within an underground chamber. Young brush rabbit is altricial. In the western United States of America, young rabbits are both born between the month of January to May. In Oregon, births are thought to occur in August.


A baby brush rabbit can only be suckled once every 24 hours. These rabbit kittens may remain together within their breeding chambers. The young rabbit is covered with fur when they are born. They only fed during at night. 

The young rabbit will leave its nest within for about two weeks after being born. In a study in a large pen, a pen larger than its typical home range about (0.33 ha) for these kinds of species. There is one young that caught in a trap when weighing as just as 70 g, and its estimated age is just 10 days, its younger than the 12 – 16 days at which it had been the belief that these rabbit has left the nest.

Litter Size

The female brush rabbits can produce two up to six babies per litter, commonly three or four. The litter size for this kind may differ between regions; the average litter sizes are about 2.87 in Oregon, 3.5 in Northern and Central California, and 4.0 in West-Central California. In the dissemination pen, the standard number of a baby rabbit per litter that survived to its age while they were trapped was 2.9. The inter-birth gap in the rabbits is lessened by the phenomenon of induced ovulation, and the post-partum oestrus that allows the female rabbits to conceive instantly after she was giving birth.

Milk Production

The rabbits can usually release milk just once in every 24-hour period. Rabbit milk contains very high fat and protein content, and it is such a highly nutritious. However, the lactation period is quick, that the milk is pumped into a baby rabbit at a high rate. The lactation period has a span of the days between 17 to 23 days.

Social Behaviors 

Most species within this group are introverted. They may sometimes chase other rabbits if they go near them. They are not as colonial, but some species in breeding groups create social hierarchies. The cottontail’s behaviors are stereotyped, and sometimes it’s fairly consistent with some other rabbit species. Most North American rabbit species are said to be introverted, but sometimes gatherings of these animals usually occurred in favor of feeding grounds. 

Rabbits are also known to be companionable when foraging. In Oregon, the eastern cottontail, which is the Sylvilagus Floridanus or Eastern Cottontail, reportedly shows aggressive behavior towards brush rabbits. It has been also been prominent that chases are usually preceded by nose touching or sometimes sniffing.

Predator Avoidance

Rabbits use their dense to cover their bodies to hide from their predators. When a brush rabbit is under threat from its predator, these cottontails sit completely still, and it remains quiet, even when someone has closely approached it. They are able to stay like this for about 15 minutes, if necessary. They run to runways or tunnels to escape; they used this as their path through groves. This rabbit climbs in low trees or shrubs to keep away from being caught by dogs and other terrestrial predators.


Brush rabbits range of individuals, but it sometimes may overlap in favored feeding grounds. These rabbits also not considered as territorial species.

Sexual Behavior

Almost all species of a lagomorph or cottontail may be used as a scent produce from a special gland. These glands are found under its chins or in the groin, and these are believed to play a key role in sexual connection, as well as in gesturing social status in some companionable species. A number of male rabbits may come together during the breeding season for them to be able to pursue an estrous female rabbit. 

In a large pen, the brush rabbits were found to use a polygamous mating system; the one male was dominating in mating, but the other males were also able to mate; these are based on genetic analysis. The dissipation of a female rabbit was confirmed because few female rabbits produced litters of young fathered by more than one male rabbit.


There are many strategies for them to live, and to survive, including its known predators include the following: cougar, foxes, the coyote, the bobcat, various, weasels, snakes, and raptors. They are also climbing onto low branches just to escape and stay safe from their predators that are dangerous for their safety and other perceived threats, they hide from the bush and doing zigzag while running when they reach an open spaces and hiding from hole so that they can’t be caught by whoever wants them to eat.

Conservation Status and Human Interaction 

The brush rabbits are not hunted like other cottontail species. It’s probably because of its relatively small size. The overall population of brush rabbits is fairly stable. One of its subspecies is the Sylvilagus bachmani riparius or  riparian brush rabbit. It is now listed as one of the endangered species by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service organization. They are formerly found along the Stanislaus River and the San Joaquin River. The population of the Riparian rabbit was been reduced by a few hundred populations in San Joaquin valley, city of California, in Caswell Memorial State Park. Their population was ruined by riparians.

Myxoma Virus

The brush rabbit is known as a natural virus carrier called myxoma virus, poxvirus, Leporipoxvirus. This virus might cause some mild effects that might affect the well being of brush rabbits. But there are some severe and fatal diseases called myxomatosis among European rabbits. The disease might be transmitted from one brush rabbit to another species by just insect bites. 

The Leporipoxvirus is the subfamily of Chordopoxvirinae is the type of virus diseases associated with this genus, including myxomatosis. Myxoma virus is a poxvirus found in the genus leporipoxvirus. They are two broad geographic types of myxoma virus, Californian and South American. The Californian myxoma virus is located on the west coast of the USA, the Baja peninsula of Mexico and to be also found in the southern part of America, wherein the virus is circulating in the jungle and including the rabbit or the Sylvilagus brasiliensis.

The viruses can cause the formation of benign cutaneous fibromas aside from systematic diseases.

The following are the particular Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani) good-to-know facts:

  • This brush is a small species of cottontail with dark grey to brown fur and a paler grey on its underside.
  • They are usually medium-sized,  medium-length ears, and slender hind feet, shorter hind legs.
  • Most of the cottontails have big ears and gigantic feet.

Self-grooming, Navigation and Activity Patterns 

Most of this species move by bunny hopping characteristics. There is also a theory that these species have the ability to swim. For them to avoid being caught by dogs or any other terrestrial predators, they climb in some low trees or shrubs. These rabbits’ speed of their movement is for them to be able to escape from their predators by taking instant flight at high speed.

There is an activity where they capture individuals and has been observed that this rabbit ascends in a very short distance for about 1.2 to 1.5 meters. Brush rabbit tends to conceal themselves in fir trees to protect themselves and to have some time to rest. Brush rabbits tend to avoid going to open areas. They are often lying under the sun in the early morning, most especially following heavy rain or fog, and even in sunny afternoons after the morning rain.

Brush rabbits usually move their hind legs together and so as their front legs except when they’re digging, or they’re moving forward very slowly. Brush rabbits tend to thump with their feet at the back for a couple of minutes when they feel frightened. After a brush rabbit eats, it grooms itself, licking his body, head, hind feet in front of their feet.

Domiciliation has been confirmed, but not from long distances (tested at 16 – 350 m).

the Sight appeared to be important, as they tended to home during clear nights.

Special notes:

  • The lagomorphs have teeth that grow throughout their lives. From this basis, the portion of the teeth which is not been exposed is strictly speaking, not a root but usually is sometimes convenient to explain it as root.
  • There is no other species within this group are known that turn white during the winter season.

Availability- Where to Get One

Brush rabbits can be purchased online from breeders selling online. They are also available at pet stores near you or go to adoption organizations. 

How to Care

Rabbits are lovely pets that are unique. Make them healthy, happy, and live longer by providing them their specific needs. Check out these steps on how to take care of a pet rabbit:

Set up Safe Indoor Housing for Rabbits

Place your brush rabbit in a puppy pen or a large cage of the rabbit. Always give your brush rabbits a great size to live where they can freely hop and play around inside it. Also, you can put their cage anywhere inside the house, especially in a spacious area, like the living room. However, don’t allow them to stay outdoors, so your brush rabbits remain safe from predators. Give your brush rabbits a time to run outside so they can feel the sunshine and breathe fresh air.

Brush rabbits need enough space to rub inside the house. You can avoid them ruining your business by creating a safe area for them. Cover all your cables and wirings with flexible tubing. Also, restrict them in some living areas, such as in your bedroom, because they might chew the sides of the bed and bookshelves. Rabbits love to chew everything they can reach, so make sure to put precious things above 3 to 4 feet.

Provide Your Brush Rabbit Appropriate Food

The diet of brush rabbits includes hay. Their food should be given to them every day or keep them with a hay every 24 hours. But baby brush rabbits need pellets, so supplement them with fresh veggies and fiber-rich pellets and clean water every day.

Set Up a Litter Box

Like any other rabbit, it’s natural for brush rabbits to poop and pee. Give them a bathroom area, like a box where they can poop and pee. You can place it on the other side of the rabbit’s cage. Put a sheet of a recycled newspaper at the bottom of the litter box then put some hay strands above it.

Groom Your Rabbit

They are naturally neat animals, and they wash-down themselves regularly. But you should still give your time to groom them by brushing your rabbit to take out all their excess fur to avoid them swallow it because it can lead to digestive issues.

Bring Your Rabbit to Vet

It is a brush rabbit’s nature to hide when they’re sick. You must observe your brush rabbits and guarantee that their eating and drinking. Also, observe if they poop and pee regularly. If not, you should bring your brush rabbit to a veterinarian straight away to have your pet checked to make sure that your brush rabbits are in good health.


Are brush rabbits lovable and close to humans?

Brush rabbits love interacting with humans, so you must spend quality time with them.

Do brush rabbits cry?

Yes, brush rabbits also cry in a different way you least expect.

What do brush rabbits eat?

Brush rabbits can eat fruits, veggies, or grasses. They are herbivores, and grasses comprise a large portion of their daily diet. Brush rabbits feed on leaves, wild rose, blackberries, and other plant species.

Why are brush rabbits endangered?

Riparian brush rabbits are endangered, both state and federally. Loss of habitat is the main reason why there’s a decline in the number of brush rabbits today.

Where do brush rabbits live?

They live and survive in chaparral vegetation. They are also found in conifer and oak habitats.

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