Last Updated on August 16, 2023 by keno
Although the hare and rabbit may look similar and may be hard to differentiate, the two are actually two different species. In other words, they’re in the same Leporidae family but in distinct genera. So when it comes to hares vs rabbits, how do you distinguish them apart? Some of the attributes that distinguish the two animals include their physique, behavior, habitat, and reproduction. Below are the differences in great detail when it comes to comparing the two animals.
Hares and rabbits normally differ in terms of size. Hares have longer black-tipped ears and legs and are generally larger than rabbits. In other words, hares are generally faster and more agile than rabbits in addition to being more vigil and adaptable to living in open grassland habitats. On the other hand, rabbits have compact bodies with shorter legs and ears that often have a solid color. This physical attribute basically allows them to burrow and live in underground warrens.
In terms of behavior, in the wild, rabbits are social animals that live in large groups consisting of 20 members. Hares on the other hand aren’t social and are generally solitary animals that only interact during the courting season, mainly in winter. It’s worth pointing out however that only cottontail rabbits are the only rabbit species that prefer solitary living just like their hares, their wild cousins.
Hares and rabbits live in different habitats. Hares are mainly located in open grasslands, deserts, and tundras. Their powerful hind legs together with their agility allow them to traverse the expansive landscape with ease. Lastly, some hares like the snowshoe have a seasonal camouflage in winter, whereby their fur turns white to seamlessly blend with its snowy surrounding.
Rabbits on the other hand, usually live in densely covered habitats such as forests, shrublands, or grassy patches. This habitat allows them to easily hide from predators by burrowing and living in warrens that are interconnected.
The last distinction when it comes to hares vs rabbits is that their reproduction is quite different. A hare’s gestation period on average lasts 42 days while a rabbit’s takes 30 to 33 days. A hare’s offspring are born precocial, meaning that they’re conceived with their eyes open and fur fully developed. This is essentially a survival adaptation that gives them the ability to quickly move a short period after birth.
Rabbits, on the other hand, give birth to altricial young ones. This basically means that their kittens are born vulnerable. They are usually blind and hairless at birth and will require more parental care and protection in their early stages of life.
When it comes to the hare vs rabbit distinction, knowing how to tell the two animals apart is advantageous when studying them or upon encountering either one of the species in the wild. Although the two animals may have a slight resemblance, without a doubt, their differences far exceed their similarities.