Hare vs. Rabbit: Key Differences between Rabbit and Hare

The similarities in appearance between hares and rabbits can be misleading, causing many to mix them up. Despite both being members of the Leporidae family, they have unique characteristics that distinguish them from each other. Hares are generally bigger and have extended ears and limbs, and their young come into the world with fur and eyes open. On the other hand, rabbits are more diminutive, with shorter ears, and their offspring, called kittens, enter life without fur and with their eyes sealed shut.

The Main Difference between Hare and Rabbit

Hare vs. Rabbit: Key Differences between Rabbit and Hare Pin

Hare vs. Rabbit: Key Takeaways

  • Hares are larger with longer ears and legs, while rabbits are smaller with shorter ears.
  • Rabbits live underground in warrens, whereas hares live in nests above ground.
  • Both species show clear differences in physical appearance, social behavior, and habitat preferences.

Hare vs. Rabbit: Overview

Understanding Hare

Hares are wild animals that exhibit larger bodies and longer ears compared to rabbits. A noteworthy characteristic of hares is that their young, called leverets, are born with fur and open eyes, signaling their advanced state of development at birth. Hares are built for agility and speed, which serves them well in evading predators in open environments.

Understanding Rabbit

Contrastingly, rabbits are generally smaller, with shorter ears and a tendency to burrow. Unlike the independent leverets, rabbit offspring, known as kittens or kits, are born blind, furless, and require considerable care from their mothers. Rabbits are often found in areas with shelter, like wooded lands where their burrows provide safety from threats.

Hare vs. Rabbit: Physical Differences 

Feature Hare Rabbit
Size Generally larger Usually smaller
Ears Longer ears Shorter ears
Legs Longer hind legs Shorter hind legs
Fur Born with fur Born without fur
Eyes Open at birth Closed at birth
Shape Lean and angular Plumper and rounded

Hare vs. Rabbit: Habitat and Behavioral Differences

Hares, for example, prefer open fields and prairies. Here they use their strong hind legs to escape predators, relying on their speed and agility. They make nests called forms in tall grasses or brush, allowing them some concealment from potential threats.

Rabbits, on the other hand, are creatures of habit that require cover such as woods, bushes, or even our gardens. They are fantastic burrowers, creating extensive underground tunnels known as warrens for protection and to give birth to their young.

Behavior Hares Rabbits
Sociality Mostly solitary Social, live in groups
Activity Mostly nocturnal, some dusk and dawn Crepuscular (active during dawn and dusk)
Reproduction Young are born developed (precocial) Young are born undeveloped (altricial)

Hare vs. Rabbit Examples in Sentences

Example Sentences of Hare 

  1. We spotted a hare darting through the meadow, its long ears visible even from a distance.
  2. The Tortoise and the Hare teaches us that slow and steady can win the race.
  3. Unlike rabbits, the hare is more solitary and does not burrow underground.
  4. The hare, with its powerful hind legs, can suddenly leap away to escape predators.
  5. Hares are generally faster than rabbits and can be seen sprinting across open fields.

Example Sentences of Rabbit 

  1. There’s a family of rabbits nesting in the underbrush near our vegetable garden.
  2. My daughter has a pet rabbit that is incredibly social and loves to be around people.
  3. Rabbits tend to hide from predators by ducking into burrows and using their environment for cover.
  4. We noticed several rabbits foraging for food at dusk, their short tails a blur as they moved through the grass.
  5. Rabbits are known for their breeding capabilities, often producing several litters a year.

Related Confused Words with Hare or Rabbit

Rabbit vs. Pikas

Rabbits are familiar to most of us with their rounded ears and tendency to dig burrows. On the other hand, pikas are smaller, mountain-dwelling relatives with rounder bodies and shorter limbs. They don’t dig burrows but live in rocky crevices and are known for their high-pitched calls. Pikas also differ from rabbits in their behavior as they collect and store plant material for the winter – a practice rabbits don’t engage in.

Hare vs. Bunny

Often, the word bunny is interchangeably used for hare and rabbit, typically to denote something cute or as a term of endearment. Biologically speaking, a hare is a more accurate term for the wild species that lives in open fields and is born fully furred with open eyes. Bunnies, in contrast, are often associated with domesticated or young rabbits. These distinctions can help us communicate about these animals with greater precision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you tell me if rabbits are considered rodents?

Rabbits were once classified as rodents, but through scientific advances, we know that they belong to the order Lagomorpha, which is separate from rodents. Our furry friends have different dental structures that distinguish them from the rodent family.

What characteristics differentiate hares and rabbits?

Hares and rabbits have differing physical traits; hares generally have longer ears, and larger feet, and are born with fur and open eyes. They’re usually more solitary and have a preference for fast running over burrowing. On the other hand, rabbits tend to be social animals, living in groups and often found in burrows.

Is it possible for rabbits and hares to successfully interbreed?

Rabbits and hares cannot interbreed. Despite their similarities and being part of the same family, Leporidae, they have different chromosome numbers which makes successful interbreeding impossible.

Which specific habitats are hares commonly found in?

Hares are typically found in open fields and on grasslands where they can use their speed to evade predators. They’re adapted to a variety of landscapes ranging from arctic tundra to tropical regions, but always in spaces that allow them to utilize their natural speed for survival.

What are the size comparisons between hares and rabbits?

Generally, hares are larger than rabbits, possessing longer hind legs and larger bodies overall. Rabbits tend to be smaller with shorter ears compared to their lanky woodland cousins, the hares.

Could you explain why it’s uncommon to have hares as pets?

Hares are less commonly kept as pets due to their wild nature and greater need for space to run. They are adapted to a life of freedom and high alertness, which makes them less conducive to domestication. Rabbits, in contrast, are more amenable to habituation and easier to handle, making them preferable as household companions.

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Last Updated on January 25, 2024

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