Look who I saw hopping across the top of our driveway- an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit. This species is the largest group of wild rabbits in Oregon. They were introduced as a game animal to several counties in northwest Oregon during the 1930’s – early 1940’s.
A white blaze on the forehead provides a clue for the age of this cottontail… only kits have this marking. The blaze will eventually disappear as the rabbit matures. This rabbit undergoes two molts per year. The spring molt, lasting from mid-April to mid-July, leaves a short summer coat that is more brown; and a fall molt from mid-September to the end of October, the change to longer, grayer pelage occurs for winter.
While looking online for information to share about the Eastern Cottontails that live wild in my neighborhood, I found disturbing news. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has issued an alert about a highly contagious, fatal viral disease in rabbits that was found in two locations in the State: The city of Milwaukee, and La Pine.
CAN HUMANS, DOGS OR OTHER ANIMALS CONTRACT RHD?
RHD is not a zoonotic disease and there is no public health significance. RHD is specific to rabbits. Dogs, cats, and other pets cannot contract the disease, but can transport the virus just like vehicles, shoes, and equipment can. More information: Oregon Dept. of Agriculture
I hope the concern is on the decline- the last post date was April 29, 2021 by the Oregon Humane Society: https://www.oregonhumane.org/rhdv/