If Alex Trebek unveiled this clue on his TV quiz show, Jeopardy, would you come up with the correct question?
“Name the wild rabbits that live in the Carolinas.”
Most people would ring in and respond “What is a cottontail?” But that wouldn’t put money in your column. If you happened to have grown up east of the fall lines in both states and responded, “What are cottontails and marsh rabbits?” you’d almost cash in.
But to take home the money, you’d have to respond “What are Appalachian and eastern cottontails, marsh rabbits and swamp rabbits?”
Hunters in South Carolina have the opportunity to hunt all four species, while North Carolina hunters have only the two cottontails and marsh rabbits, aka “bluetails” or “canecutters.”
Bunches o’ bunnies
“In South Carolina, we’ve got marsh rabbits and swamp rabbits,” Michael Hooks, the small-game biologist for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
According to SCDNR, swamp rabbits have been documented only in the Savannah River drainages in Oconee, Pickens and Anderson counties. Appalachian cottontails are found only at higher elevations in Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties.
Swamp rabbits are as large as marsh rabbits but have fuzzy, white tails, similar to a cottontail. True marsh rabbits are the largest specimens in both states and have small, stubby, brown tails.
“We call every big rabbit a swamp rabbit,” Hooks said.