An Evaluation Of Several Body Measurements For Determining Age In Live Juvenile Cottontails

An evaluation of several body measurements for determining age of juvenile cottontail rabbits was undertaken on the Coastal Plains and Piedmont Soils of Alabama from January 1963 to December 1966. Coefficients of variation were calculated, and growth curves were fitted from least squares analyses of measurements of tarsus length, ear length, nose-rump length, and body weight from 151 known-aged cottontails born in pens and raised in large enclosures. Tarsus length provided the best estimate of age in young cottontails. Body weights at birth were greater than weights reported for cottontails from Pennsylvania and Illinois. A loss of body weight following birth was indicated. After approximately 90 days of age, rates of growth for cottontails in this study were slower than rates reported for Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kentucky cottontails. Implications of the slower rate of growth and its effects on sexual maturity and reproduction by young-of-the-year are mentioned.

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