• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Is there such a thing as a 'swamp rabbit'? (1 Viewer)

FloatCopper

New Birder
Almost 30 years now, I was hiking through some balsam and birch mix in Upper Michigan, stepped across a tiny creek and from the very deep snow an extremely large (enormous!) very dark cottontail emerged and tried to run. Snow was several feet deep and soft and it struggled 10-12 feet and submerged again under some branches. I backed away a little and went on around.
I was probably hunting as I hunted snowshoe hares back then when I was in college - but i wasn't going to shoot something I'd never seen the like before.

Anyway,a professor who liked the outdoors too, told me "that was a swamp rabbit, they're a subspecies of cottontail, some say their own species."
But in the internet age, I've never found any real reference to something like that.

So I guess I just saw a big, fat, cottontail rabbit? All these years I thought I had seen something rare.

On another note, in the late 80's I'd see a 6-1 ratio of snowshoes to cottontail in the keweenaw (Upper Michigan) where I hike, hares were all over, cottontails not very often. Now it's maybe 3-1 or even 3-2 . Many more cottontails around, fewer hares. I don't know if it's habitat or what. Seems like less birch and balsam where I used to see lots of hares. A different mix of woody browse now, maybe that's it.
 

FloatCopper

New Birder
Thank you.

I remember looking, and not finding anything similar. Not that I didn't search although most of it was awhile back and just a quick look again now. But now I remember, that the name was used for a rabbit of the southeastern USA, so not near the range of upper Michigan where I saw the rabbit.

So it seems, there is such a thing. But what I was told must have just been some colloquial name or idea about these big rabbits. Maybe a local biologist at the universities in the area is who I should follow up with. Just curious.

Thx again.

Another wierd sighting about the same eyars, I see that the range of the black ratsnake does not show as extending up here to the lake superior shore. But I also saw a large one, none of us could identify it as anything else from books, in my uncle's barn in the 90s. (After a neighbor killed it as he saw it in the barn, which I wished he hadn't, my Uncle said "I wondered why so many of my cats had disappeared.") But my uncle noted that in a some past years he had bought truckloads of feed for his dairy herd all the way from lower wisconsin, which was unloaded and stored in the barn. So we thought it likely hitched a ride. Big beautiful snake, shame it was automatically killed.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Thank you.

I remember looking, and not finding anything similar. Not that I didn't search although most of it was awhile back and just a quick look again now. But now I remember, that the name was used for a rabbit of the southeastern USA, so not near the range of upper Michigan where I saw the rabbit.

So it seems, there is such a thing. But what I was told must have just been some colloquial name or idea about these big rabbits. Maybe a local biologist at the universities in the area is who I should follow up with. Just curious.

Thx again.

The rabbit in SE USA is Marsh Rabbit, different species. Used to be fairly easy to see on roadside verges in the Everglades National Park, but with the big snake mammal devastation I don't know if they are more difficult now.

John
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top