The eastern cottontail can be found in meadows and shrubby areas in the eastern and south-central
United States, southern
Central America and northernmost
South America. It is abundant in Midwest North America, and has been found in New Mexico and Arizona. Its range expanded north as forests were cleared by settlers.
 Originally, it was not found in
New England, but it has been introduced there and now competes for habitat there with the native
New England cottontail. It has also been introduced into parts of
 In the mid-1960s, the eastern cottontail was introduced to
Saint Croix and northern
Italy, where it displayed a rapid territorial expansion and increase in population density.