Sylvilagus brasiliensis ranges from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. It commonly occurs in Amazonian Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia and is common in eastern Brazil. In southern South America S. brasiliensis is found in both eastern and western Paraguay and in Argentina across the northern provinces and as far south as Tucuman province.
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
- Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 1999. Mammals of the Neotropices, The Central Neotropics, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Sylvilagus brasiliensis is a medium-sized rabbit, ranging in weight from 700 to 1000 g. The pelage is typically yellowish-brown, but some individuals are a darker brown or reddish color. The ventrum is whitish. This species has a characteristic russet patch on the dorsum of the neck. It also has pale spots above the eye and on the muzzle.
Range mass: 0.7 to 1 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sylvilagus brasiliensis spends its time in moist forested areas. It also inhabits transitional forest and grasslands in the Chaco.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest
Habitat and Ecology
As recorded in two localities, Chiapas, Mexico, and the Andean Paramos in South America, S. brasiliensis reproduces year-round (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). Gestation time is variable according to location (28-44 days) (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). This species has a small mean litter size (1.2) compared to other members of the genus (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). Total length ranges form 25.0-42.0 cm (Cervantes et al. 2005).
Sylvilagus brasiliensis forages on green vegetation of grass and shrubs.
Plant Foods: leaves
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
Sylvilagus brasiliensis is likely prey for numerous medium and large carnivores. It probably affects vegetational communities through its foraging.
Predation on S. brasiliensis has been reported in the western Amazon, in Acre, Brazil. A tayra, a neotropical mustelid, was seen running in pursuit of S. brasiliensis, but retreated when the observer was detected. Various canids and felids probably also prey on this species.
Other members of the genus Sylvilagus are known to remain very still for prolonged periods, possibly as a means of avoiding detection by predators using visual cues to catch prey. These rabbits are also known for their erratic flight from predators, in which they move in complex zig-zag patterns, possibly helping them to escape the predator.
- tayra (Eira barbara)
- canids (Canidae)
- felids (Felidae)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
No information was found on S. brasiliensis communication. However, other members of the genus are known to communicate with high pitched squeals and distress calls. As mammals, it is likely that they use scent cues. Tactile communication probably occurs between mates, rivals, and a mother and her offspring.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
There are no reports of the longevity of this species. However, congeners are known to live as long as 5 years in the wild, and have lived longer than 9 years in captivity.
No information was found on S. brasiliensis mating systems. However, other species in the genus are apparently polygynous. Males may compete to establish dominance hierarchies, which in turn determine mating priority. The rigidity of these hierarchies varies between species.
Sylvilagus brasiliensis has a gestation period of 42 to 45 days. A small litter size of 2 is common. In Paraguay, a female with three embryos was collected.
Sylvilagus brasiliensis apparently reproduce only once per year. Females have a cycle in which the interbirth interval is about 270 days. In Misiones province, Argentina, females reproduce in September.
Rabbits of this genus are typically precocial. They are born with their eyes open, and are able to leave the nest by the age of 12 to 18 days. In some species, sexual maturity can be reached by the age of 80 days, although most species appear to wait until the following year to mate. Adult size may be attained by 23 to 30 weeks.
Breeding interval: These rabbits apparently breed once per year.
Breeding season: Females breed in August, producing their litters in September.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 6.
Average number of offspring: 1.9.
Range gestation period: 26 to 30 days.
Range weaning age: 14 to 18 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
No information was found on S. brasiliensis reproductive parental care. However, based upon the patterns in the genus, we can assume that the young are precocial, and that they leave the nest, becoming independent within three weeks of birth.
The female probably provides the bulk of parental care, nursing the young, grooming them, and keeping them safe in the nest until they are ready to disperse. There are no reports of male parental care in the genus.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sylvilagus brasiliensis
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Sylvilagus brasiliensis is not protected under CITES or IUCN.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
No information was found on an negative impact that this species might have on humans.
Rabbits are an important game species in many parts of South America, and are an important source of protein in many rural areas.
Positive Impacts: food
The tapeti (Sylvilagus brasiliensis), also known as the Brazilian cottontail or forest cottontail, is a cottontail rabbit species. Its range extends from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. It is small to medium sized with a small, dark tail, short hind feet, and short ears. It is classified as "Least Concern" by the IUCN.
The species was first described scientifically by Carl Linnaeus in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, published in 1753. The type locality was in Pernambuco, Brazil. In addition to its vernacular name "tapeti", it commonly known as the "forest cottontail" or the "Brazilian cottontail".
Tapeti is a small- to medium-sized rabbit. It has a head-body length of 320 mm (13 in), a tail that is 21 mm (0.83 in), hind feet measuring 71 mm (2.8 in), ears that are 54 mm (2.1 in) (measured from notch to tip), and it weighs an average of 934 grams (32.9 oz). The color of its back is brown with a speckled appearance (resulting from the black hairs tips), and it has a rufous spot on its neck. Its belly and tail underside are also rufous. It has six mammae. Two different karyotypes have been reported for this species: 2n=36, FN=68; and 2n=40, FN=76.
It is a solitary, nocturnal animal, usually seen after nightfall or before dawn, feeding on grass and browse. It has also been recorded eating Harrya chromapes, a bolete mushroom. It is found in forested habitats, close to swamps and along river edges, and in disturbed areas, such as gardens and plantations.
Habitat, distribution, and ecology
The tapeti occurs in tropical rain forests, deciduous forests, and second growth forests in Mexico and Central America, as well as pastures surrounding forest habitat. Its range extends from southern Tamaulipas in Mexico, south along the eastern coast of Mexico, through Guatemala, possibly El Salvador, Honduras, eastern Nicaragua, eastern Costa Rica, and Panama. It occurs through the northern half of South America (except at high altitudes), including Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina, and much of Brazil. The southern tip of its known distribution occurs in Tucuman province. It occurs at elevations from sea level to 4,800 m (15,700 ft). It is the only leporid species found in most of its range.
Rabbits build nests built of dry grasses above the ground to rear their young. They have a central chamber and three or four smaller chambers at the end of a corridor. The gestation period varies with the geographical location. Rabbits in Chiapas, Mexico gestate for about 28 days, and have three to eight offspring, while rabbits in the Páramos of the Andes gestate for 44 days, and have an average litter size of 1.2. Both of these populations breed year-round.
Like its California relative, the brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani), the tapeti is a natural reservoir for the myxoma virus. This relationships was discovered by Brazilian physician Henrique de Beaurepaire Rohan Aragão in the 1940s. The virus causes a benign cutaneous fibroma in its hosts, but it causes the lethal disease myxomatosis, in European rabbits.
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