We all know the fluffy white tail and twitching nose of the common rabbit. These little balls of fluff are a common sight in yards as they munch on grass and scrounge around bird feeders. But what else do bunnies do during the day and where do they live?
Rabbits are considered crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn from 5-7am to 6-8pm. During the day, rabbits may sleep in their burrows, scavenge for food, or run from predators if they are disturbed. Rabbits do not hibernate, so they may be active during the day year-round.
Let’s get into some more details about where these four-legged fur balls hang out during the day and what rabbits get into while the sun is out!
Do Rabbits Come Out During The Day?
The most common type of rabbit found in the United States is the cottontail rabbit. But, did you know ‘cottontail rabbit’ is just a genius? For example, ‘Canis’ is a genus that includes wolves, coyotes, domestic dogs, and other canines.
Under the rather large cottontail umbrella are all kinds of different species of cottontail rabbits. There’s the swamp rabbit, brush rabbit, eastern cottontail, mountain cottontail, and marsh rabbit just to name a few.
Regardless, can you expect to see these fluffy-tailed bunnies out and about during the day?
Rabbits will come out during the day to find food or if they are disturbed and must run from a predator. Otherwise, they sleep most of the day under heavy cover or in abandoned burrows.
According to a study from the Journal of Arid Environments, cottontail rabbits are most active from 5-7am and 6-8pm. This aligns with their crepuscular nature.
Rabbits will come out during the day more often in exurban environments where structures provide plenty of cover from watchful predators, but the population of humans isn’t so high that it disturbs rabbits while they forage.
Rabbits also come out during the day more frequently in the winter due to cold temperatures in the morning and evening.
If a rabbit encounters a predator during the day, it won’t immediately run from it. Instead, they’ll freeze up and hope that they blend in with the surrounding environment.
Predators that continue forward will get a flash of white as the cottontail bolts away in a zig-zag fashion. This is another reason you may see cottontails out during the day – their nap was interrupted by an intrusive predator.
Here’s Where Rabbits Stay During The Day
Rabbits are prey animals to a lot of predators. According to Oklahoma State University, this list includes bobcats, coyotes, cougars, hawks, eagles, owls, foxes, raccoons, and weasels.
With so many predators on the hunt for them, cottontails must choose their daytime hiding place carefully.
Hiding beneath a tree may protect them from birds, but a lurking bobcat can still spot them. Similarly, a tall patch of grass may block them from view from a coyote, but aerial predators will see them in no time.
So, what’s a good hiding place to stay if you’re a rabbit?
Rabbits will stay crouched beneath logs, hide in thickets and thorn bushes, or crawl beneath brush piles during the day to stay safe. They might also hide beneath raised structures such as sheds or outbuildings.
Because there is such a variety in the species of cottontails, these animals thrive in a variety of environments based on what’s around them. For example, swamp rabbits prefer bottomlands, marshes, and floodplains, while Eastern cottontails prefer new forests with low trees and bushes.
Either way, once a rabbit finds a decent place to spend the day, they may nap or groom themselves. Occasionally they will get up on their hind legs and check for predators.
How Far Do Rabbits Travel From Their Home?
Now that we know what bunnies are up to during the day, let’s talk about their other activities. Just how far do rabbits wander to find food?
A rabbit’s home range isn’t very large. According to Michigan State University, rabbits will only travel around 5 to 8 acres during their entire lives. This may change during the mating season when males will travel further.
The small home range of rabbits gives them the best chance of survival. They know the territory and know all the little nooks and crannies they can dart into if a predator comes skulking around.
Rabbits may increase their home range during the winter if food is scarce. During the warmer seasons, rabbits enjoy a smorgasbord of veggies like grass, clovers, strawberries, garden veggies, and wild rye.
During the winter season, gardens are empty and grasses are covered with snow, so it can be difficult for a rabbit to find their preferred food. Instead, they’ll live off of twigs and bark from a variety of trees like maple, birch, and dogwood.
Do Rabbits Live In Groups?
It’s not uncommon to see three or four bunnies hopping around in a park near each other. Are they together, or just happen to be in the same place?
Rabbits are solitary creatures. They do not nest together and are not typically seen napping or grooming together. The only exception is when a mother rabbit is nursing her kittens.
Yep, baby rabbits are called kittens. Adorable, right?
But the kittens don’t hang around very long before they’re off on their own. After as little as 16 days and up to 7 weeks, depending on the species, baby rabbits move out and find their thicket or log to hang out in.
Once rabbits mate, the male doesn’t help raise the kits at all but goes off to find another mate. The mother puts minimal effort into her kittens, nursing them a few times a day but offering little protection or instruction.
This behavior would be questionable if rabbits only copulated once a year. But rabbits can have up to 7 litters in a single year, though they average 4. It’s no wonder mother rabbits are ready to kick their kits out in less than a month!
Mating season runs from March through September according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, with each litter bearing around five kittens.
When grass, seeds, and veggies are abundant, there can be as many as four rabbits per acre of land. However, in the winter there is only an average of one lonesome rabbit per acre. This is due to winter conditions, predation, as well as the hunting season.
5 Places Where Rabbits Live In Your Yard
Seeing a rabbit in your yard can be an exciting moment. Their fuzzy little tails and big brown ears twitch as they hop around. But if you’re consistently seeing rabbits in your yard, they may be living closer than you think.
Remember, rabbits don’t travel very far from their homes when they’re out searching for food. If they’re in your yard, chances are they live very close by. So, where are these fluffy bunnies living in your yard?
1. Rabbits Live Beneath Raised Structures
A good cover can be hard to come by for a rabbit. The cover has to shield them from both earth- and sky-bound predators.
What better place to hide than near a human dwelling?
Humans will inadvertently protect rabbits from predators just by being around them. Kids playing in the yard, dogs barking at neighbors, local cats prowling the streets. All of the noise and commotion help keep predators away.
Predators (and all wild animals, really) are skittish around people. They’re not quite sure what to make of us and aren’t sure if we are a threat or not. This is good! It keeps wild animals wild. It also helps rabbits stay alive without you even knowing it.
Rabbits will make their home beneath structures that are either raised or have a space beneath them. For example, rabbits are known for making homes beneath porches, beneath trailers, and beneath sheds.
Populations of the common cottontail rabbits have increased in many areas due to human encroachment. The predators get pushed further away while prey animals like rabbits, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and opossums benefit from less predation.
To prevent rabbits from making a home beneath your shed or porch, you can use something like Yardgard’s 2’ x 25’ 1-inch plastic multi-purpose netting fence to seal areas beneath your buildings. It’s recommended to burry the mesh 6 inches beneath the soil to prevent burrowing underneath.
You can use a staple gun to attach the fence to the bottom of the building and landscape staples to hold the fencing in place in the ground.
2. Rabbits Live In Your Lawn
Having a home beneath your porch or shed is understandable. It’s safe, covered from inclement weather, and probably warmer than out in the open.
But some rabbits will make a home out in the open, right on your lawn! And the crazy thing is you probably won’t even notice they are there.
When rabbits build a nest for their kittens, they will dig a shallow depression about 6 inches deep and 4 inches wide. They’ll pluck some fur from their bellies to line the nest and then cover it with grass and more fur.
To us, it will look like a dead patch of grass on your lawn. But in reality, it’s a rabbit nest. Nests can easily be destroyed during mowing or other lawn activities, so be on the lookout before you decide to mow your grass.
Rabbits try to build their nests near bushes, brush piles, or along fence lines, but this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, it’s right out in the open.
If this is the case for you, take a look at our guide on how to stop rabbits digging holes in your property!
3. Rabbits Live Beneath Your Trees And Shrubs
According to Penn State University, rabbits prefer thick cover interspersed with grasses and thick, herbaceous plants.
It kind of sounds like a normal landscape, right? You have grass in your lawn interspersed with landscape bushes, pine trees, or maybe some unruly thorn bushes. It’s the perfect landscape for a rabbit!
Pine trees with lower branches touching the ground make perfect homes for wild rabbits. They use the tree cover above to hide from birds and the thick understory below to hide from prowling ground predators like cats and coyotes.
Shrubs work just as well, providing rabbits cover on all sides. They’ll wiggle their way beneath the bush and hide out during the day.
If you want to keep rabbits away from these areas, try utilizing the primary scents that rabbits hate underneath your trees and shrubs!
4. Rabbits Will Take Advantage Of Any Cover In Your Yard
Wild rabbits are pretty small, weighing in at just 2 to 4 pounds. Females are a little bigger than males but still small in comparison to other animals.
Their small stature grants them the use of just about any form of cover available. If you have brush piles in your yard, stacks of wood, compost piles, or old building materials laying around, rabbits will use them.
They’ll squeeze beneath, around, or through to get under cover and away from predators during the day.
If you need to keep them away, take a quick look at our guide on how to naturally get rid of rabbits here!
5. Rabbits Will Live In Your Garden
Talk about living the dream, right? A garden is an all-you-can-eat buffet for rabbits, so to live in one seems like a pretty smart idea.
Similar to how rabbits live in lawns by making nests with fur and grasses, rabbits will make nests in gardens by utilizing fence lines. They’ll make their nests on the edge of gardens so it is less noticeable.
Gardens are rich with food and the soil is typically tilled, making it lose and suitable for nests to raise their kittens.
Rabbits do not use gardens as often as you might think, though. While gardens contain a bunch of yummy veggies that rabbits love, they also contain yummy veggies that other animals love.
Raccoons, opossums, and skunks may also intrude on gardens. Raccoons will eat rabbits if the opportunity arises, so the garden is not as safe as some of the other locations in your yard.
If you’re having problems with rabbits in your garden, day or night, you can always construct rabbit-proof fencing around your garden. Studies show that fencing is effective at deterring rabbits.
A quick side note – many people think that marigolds keep rabbits away, but that simply isn’t the case. You’re better off using something like a fence!
Rocicmhy’s 36” x 50’ ½-inch hardware cloth is a great choice for keeping rabbits out of your garden. It’s recommended that the fence be at least two feet tall to keep out rabbits, but you’ll also want to bury the fence 6 inches into the soil to prevent digging.
You can use up to a 1-inch wire mesh to keep rabbits out, but it’s not recommended to use anything larger than 1-inch openings. Otherwise, those fluff balls can squeeze through to graze on your lettuce.
What Else Do Rabbits Do?
Rabbits are small, solitary animals that spend most of their lives hiding, eating, and mating. Wild rabbits rarely live beyond their third year of life, but have the potential to live up to 5 years.
When evading predators, rabbits can hit a top speed of 18mph and cover 15 feet in a single leap! They also employ a zig-zag pattern when escaping to try to evade a predator long enough to find cover.
Now that we know rabbits typically hide during the day, let’s check out what else these fluffy creatures do.
Animals communicate with each other in a variety of ways. Coyotes yip and bark, insects use pheromones, birds sing, dogs yawn and lick their lips, and cats purr and blink to let us know what they feel and think.
Rabbits are no different and have a variety of communications to ‘talk’ to one another or to startle predators.
According to the Adirondack Ecological Center, rabbits will thump, grunt, scream, and squeal to communicate to other rabbits or predators.
Thumping is thought to be a warning to nearby rabbits that a predator is nearby. I guess Bambi got it right! Grunts are used by mother rabbits to get the attention of her kittens or when a predator approaches a rabbit nest.
Screams and squeals are used to startle nearby predators and to alert other rabbits of predators. They are also employed if a rabbit is injured, distressed, or captured by a predator.
Rabbits are pretty intolerable of each other. Just like me on a Monday morning, they are not social creatures.
Despite this, they still have a loose hierarchical system between each other. This especially comes into play during the mating season.
Rabbits don’t normally fight, but if they spot another rabbit on their turf, they’ll give chase until one or the other submits.
Dominant males will raise their hind ends and elevate their ears as a show of victory. Females will raise their chin and depress their ears to show dominance.
A Rabbit’s Impact On Humans – The Good And The Bad
Each animal has a unique niche in which they live. Their actions, their food sources, their behaviors, and their habitat preferences all have an impact on the surrounding environment.
Rabbits may be small, but they impact the world around them just like any other creature. And just like any other creature, there are both positives and negatives that come along with having rabbits around.
Rabbits Can Be Good For The Environment
If you have rabbits in your yard or see them in the park, is it a good thing or a bad thing? Truthfully, it’s a little of both.
Rabbits serve two main functions in nature:
- Weed control
- Food for other animals
It might not seem like a lot, but those two functions are important for humans, other animals, and the environment.
Rabbits are strict vegetarians, eating only plants, vegetables, fruits, and seeds. For this reason, they are great at keeping weeds down, including invasive weeds that might be destructive to other plant life.
Just don’t expect rabbits to pass up the lettuce in your garden for a weed…
Rabbits provide sustenance for other animals like coyotes, bobcats, wolves, and cougars. They also fall prey to owls, hawks, and eagles. The high reproductive rate of rabbits keeps big carnivores well-fed, which is incredibly important for a healthy environment.
Without predators, plants and grasses would be over-eaten and the soil would be degraded. This can cause erosion and unsuitable soil for new plants and trees to grow. Soil erosion also interrupts normal rain runoff, which can cause flooding or interrupt normal flow patterns.
Rabbits are also game animals that many people hunt and use for food during the proper hunting season.
Rabbits Can Be Bad For The Environment
No animal can be all good, even our cottontail rabbits. Cottontails are considered pests for farmers, gardeners, homeowners, and orchard owners.
The main reason is that rabbits eat food that isn’t meant for them. They get into our gardens, they dig in our lawn and beneath our sheds, they get into wheat and cornfields, and they gnaw on branches of orchard trees.
This is when rabbits become pests and are often targeted for removal. However, Kansas State University states that the complete removal of rabbits from established areas is nearly impossible.
When rabbits are removed from an area, neighboring rabbits will move in and continue the cycle.
If you want to try a simple fix for getting rid of rabbits, consider using something such as Natures Mate Rabbit Repellent!
That’s A Wrap!
That’s all we have for now on rabbits and what they have going on during the day. For better or worse, rabbits are here to stay. Now, for a quick recap….
In general, here’s where rabbits go and live during the day:
- Beneath logs
- In low-branching pine trees
- Brush piles
- Beneath raised structures
- New forests with dense undergrowth
The best thing we can do is learn about these little critters and try to understand them so that we might live beside them with as little conflict as possible.
If rabbits are destroying your lawn or causing more trouble than you can handle, you can use our nationwide pest control finder to get in contact with a wildlife professional near you!
Abu Baker, M. A., Emerson, S. E., & Brown, J. S. (2015). Foraging and habitat use of eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus) in an urban landscape. Urban Ecosystems, 18, 977-987. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11252-015-0463-7
Arias-Del Razo, I., Hernandez, L., Laundre, J. W., & Myers, O. (2011, February). Do predator and prey foraging activity patterns match? A study of coyotes (Canis latrans), and lagomorphs (Lepus californicus and Sylvilagus audobonii). Journal of Arid Environments, 75(2), 112-118. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140196310002557
Bock, C. E., Jones, Z. F., & Bock, J. H. (2006). Abundance of cottontails (Sylvilagus) in an exurbanizing southwestern savanna. The Southwestern Naturalist, 51(3), 352-357.
Silvano, F., Acquarone, C., & Cucco, M. (2000, February). Distribution of the Eastern cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus in the province of Alessandria. the Italian Journal of Mammalogy, 11.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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