Linda Esparza took this photo of a baby Desert Cottontail while feeding on grass near Kmart’s old location along Mountain View Road.
The Desert Rabbits (Sylvilagus audubonii) are common in the Tehachapi Mountains, in most areas where there is food and shelter available. They are very tolerant of human activity and can thrive around homes and even in town, as long as there is not too much hunting pressure from domestic cats, whether pet or feral.
Unlike European rabbits, from which most domestic rabbit breeds originated, cottontail rabbits do not typically live underground in burrows. They sleep and hide nestled in grass or other vegetation in a space called a “form”.
Mother rabbits sometimes make their nests under a scrap piece of plywood or sheet metal, an outbuilding, a brush pile, a pile of old wood, or use an abandoned burrow made by another mammal. After creating just enough space for her and her babies, she will line the nest with soft belly fur that naturally loosens just for this purpose.
Babies are born naked with their eyes closed, but they quickly develop a layer of down that will grow into the fur that protects them from the weather. Their eyes open after about 10 days, and within two to three weeks they make their first cautious appearance outside of hiding in the nest.
The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for Cottontail is tavüütsi, pronounced tah-VUHT-si.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular Tehachapi News feature edited by Jon Hammond that features photos of the natural beauty that improves the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you can submit it to the Tehachapi News for a possible publication. Submissions may be filed through the NewsDesk as a hard copy or CD, or emailed to: [email protected]