Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit Facts
- Firstly, the Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) remains perhaps the most endangered species of rabbit currently known to man. It was named in honor of Hugh Hefner.
- It also ranks as the smallest and rarest of the three marsh rabbit subspecies. Quite sadly, all three face serious threats to their continue existence.
- These threats include vehicular traffic, illegal dumping, domestic animals, invasive species, and, of course, climate change. For these reasons, the IUCN lists it as Endangered.
- This species also remains isolated to the a tiny area by the rise in sea level and human habitation in its area. Finally, this isolation may be the cause for the extreme specialization of the species.
The Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit Physical Description
The marvelous Lower Keys Marsh rabbit forms a small-to-medium sized species. Individuals also average about 15 in (380 mm) in length and 2.2-3.8 lbs (1.0-1.7 kg) in weight. However, no sexual dimorphism is exhibited.
Further, its hind feet range from 2.5-3.1 in (65-80 mm) in length, and the ears range from 1.7-2.4 in (45- 62 mm) long.
In addition, the fur of this rabbit grows short with dark brown shades, and a grayish-white belly. But the tails appear dark brown.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Lagomorpha
- Family: Leporidae
- Genus: Sylvilagus
- Species: S. palustris
- Subspecies: S. p. hefneri
Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The wonderful Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit, as the name indicates, inhabits the Florida Keys, in the United States, in North America. Yet sadly, it now finds itself limited to an extremely tiny portion of the area.
This range includes a few of the larger Lower Keys. Specifically, however, this covers Boca Chica, Saddlebunch, Sugarloaf, and Big Pine Keys and the small islands near these Keys.
Further, research determined the habitat occupied by species to be limited to 633 acres in 1995, with only 81 suitable habitats.
It typically chooses areas of marsh, as the name implies. In addition, it prefers elevated sections, with sufficient plant cover for food, nesting, and protection.
The animal has also become dependent on several specific plants for its diet. These include certain grasses, herbs, and sedges. Rather unfortunately, most of these have now been decimated by invasive species.