Hare vs. Rabbit: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: November 21, 2020

You have heard of rabbits and hares, but do you know what the difference is between them? Some rabbits have evolved from hares, but that doesn’t mean they should be classified as a hare. There are distinguishing factors between the two that are good to know if you plan to be a rabbit expert — or if you want to impress your friends and family at the next get-together.

Let’s begin with similarities and then go over the differences between these two species.

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What Are the Similarities?

Rabbits and hares belong to the Leporidae family (which actually contains 60 species), and they are both mammals. You will notice that the rabbit and the hare have long ears, strong hindquarters for hopping, long front teeth, and a second set of incisors.

That sums up how they are similar. Let’s move on to their differences, since they aren’t the same species.

What Is a Rabbit?

dwarf rabbit
Image: Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

  • Babies: Baby rabbits are called kits or kittens and are born hairless and blind. They are totally dependent on their mothers for the first eight weeks of their life. Rabbit homes are built by burrowing into the ground, which offers protection to the babies and the mother.
  • Body type: Rabbits have shorter ears and legs and can’t run nearly as fast as the hare because they are smaller overall. They appear squatter and chubbier, and their bodies are low to the ground because of their short legs. Their fur will not change color during different seasons; instead, it stays a greyish-brown all year long.
  • Behavior: They live in colonies of 20 or more and are very sociable. However, a dominant male will mate with most of the females, and in order to become the head honcho, they have to fight the other bucks. You can domesticate a rabbit much easier, though some breeds won’t do well in captivity because it stresses them out too much. If they are in danger, the rabbit prefers to hide in its burrow, and if they run, their top speed is no more than 35 miles per hour.
  • Diet: Grasses, soft stems, and vegetables are their diet preference. They enjoy eating fruit from time to time.

What Is a Hare?

hare
Image: Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

  • Babies: Baby hares are called leverets and are born with hair and open eyes, and they can already hop around. They can be on their own within one hour after being born and are weaned from their mother by the second or third week of their life. The homes of a hare are simple nests in the grass or hollow logs, since they don’t require as much protection from predators.
  • Body type: The hare is larger (different breeds determine the size), and they have long ears with black markings, larger feet, and longer hind legs. You will notice a hare stands off the ground much higher than a rabbit. Their fur will turn white in the winter and will be brown or gray in the summer.
  • Behavior: They are solitary animals, meeting up with others in the winter for mating season, and there is no fighting among the males. Hares are never domesticated, and it is best to keep them wild. When in danger, the hare will use its long legs to run away — some breeds can run up to 45 miles per hour.
  • Diet: Hares prefer to eat small twigs and bark, but they also eat grasses and herbs. If food is scarce, they will eat whatever can be found.

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Now that you know the difference between a rabbit and a hare, if you see one or the other in the wild, you can identify them with confidence. Even though they look similar in certain aspects, they are different species — just like a goat and sheep — and they have more differences than similarities.


Featured Image: skeeze and Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

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