36 Perkins St., PO Box 300040, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Gerry Wright, Founder and President

Telephone: 617-524-7070


TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370

Friends of Jamaica Pond

History and Annual Park Keeper Award

Frederick Law Olmsted a one-man play by Gerry Wright

Nature's Class Room: Environmental Education Projects

Environmental Research Projects

Forestry Protection Projects

Emerald Necklace Bird Club

Volunteer Stewardship Program

Calendar and Meetings and Press

Memberships and Donations

Links and Resources

Contact and Email Info

"Let it be not for present use and delight alone, but let it be of such a work that our descendents will thank us for it."
Frederick Law Olmsted

Class Room:


Jamaica Pond's Albino Gray Squirrel

Great Horned Owls

Red Tailed Hawks

Butterflies and Dragonflies

Emerald Necklace Wildflowers

Pink Lady's Slipper

Great Blue Herons

Emerald Necklace Fungi (Coming Soon)

Boston's Emerald Necklace

Cottontail Rabbits

New England Cottontail - Sylvilagus transitionalis
Eastern Cottontail - Sylvilagus floridanus

by Stephen Baird

The Emerald Necklace has two species of Cottontail Rabbits - the New England Cottontail and the Eastern Cottontail.  The different species can only be fully determined by body measurements and DNA lab tests. Field identifications are only correct about 60-90 percent of the time by the New England Cottontail's brown forehead spot and brown ear stripes and the Eastern Cottontail's white forehead spot (See images below).

Cottontail Rabbits

  • Cottontail Rabbits are very common and can be found throughout Boston's Emerald Necklace from Boston Common to Olmsted Park to Franklin Park and many backyard gardens.

I was photographing butterflies in the garden between the Jamaica Pond Boat House and Gazebo when this Eastern Cottontail emerged to bask in the setting sun.  I am always amazed of how nature finds its way into the smallest places and spaces...

  • Eastern Cottontail Rabbits are not native to New England.  They were introduced in the late 1800s and again in the 1920s.  The native New England Cottontail has seen a dramatic 86 percent population decline from the increased competition by Eastern Cottontail Rabbits and habitat changes from farmland to forests.  Preserves including one on the Boston Harbor Islands are being set up to help protect the remaining New England Cottontail population.
  • Named after the white tail

  • Lives an average of 1.5 years in the wild. Oldest recorded wild cottontail lived 5 years.  Oldest captive cottontail lived 9 years.
  • Rabbits are herbivores -- eating grasses, weeds, fruits, dandelions (see picture below) plus garden flowers, lettuce, and beet greens. In the winter they eat tree bark and buds. Rabbits also eat their own feces in order to improve plant material digestion (coprophagous).

  • Reproduction:
    • Males will set up territory by thumping the ground with their hind legs. Also will box rival males with front paws.
    • Females build nest in shallow hollows, abandoned dens of other animals, stonewalls and rock crevices.
    • Mate between March and September and have 3-4 litters of 3-8 kits.
    • Young rabbits are born without fur, blind and deaf.  They leave the nest in 2-3 weeks and become completely independent in 4-5 weeks.
    • Males and females do not actively care for young.
    • Kits and young bunnies have an 85-90 percent mortality rate in the first year.

  • Predators: Rabbits are a source of food for many reptiles, birds and mammals including people.  Great horned owls, red tailed hawks (see photo below), coyotes, foxes, are just a few of the predators here in the Emerald Necklace.  Crows, raccoons, skunks, and snakes hunt young rabbits. Unleashed dogs chase and kill adult and young rabbits.

NOTE:  8 x 10 matted and framed photographs are available for $100 membership donations or 11 x 17 matted and framed photographs are available for $500 membership donations to Friends of Jamaica Pond. Contact Stephen Baird at

Contact and Email Information


36 Perkins St., PO Box 300040, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Gerry Wright, Founder and President

Telephone: 617-524-7070


TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370

For translations into different languages -- Arabic, Chinese, Italian, French, German, Russian, Spanish or others visit the web site:

Community Arts Advocates

Copyright 1999-2013 by Stephen Baird