Difference between a Rabbit and a Hare

By: | Updated: Dec-12, 2017

When we think about small, furry, long-earned, and cuddly creatures, rabbits usually are top-of-mind. We see them in farms or pet stores. But when we notice rabbits in their natural environment, are we actually sure we’re seeing rabbits? Those might just be their close relatives, the hares. To find out the difference between rabbits and hares, continue reading this article.

Summary Table

Rabbit Hare
Newborn rabbits are called kittens or kitsNewborn hares are called leverets
Are born helpless, without fur and blindAre born capable of independent movements, with fur and vision
Smaller with shorter hind legsLarger and have longer hind legs
Fur color remains the same year-roundFur color changes from grayish brown in summer to white in winter
Prefers eating soft stems, grass, or vegetablesPrefers eating hard barks, rinds, small twigs, and shoots
Lives in burrows or tunnelsLives above ground among plants
Often hides underground to get away from predatorsRelies on speed to get away from predators
Very social animals and fight with other males to become the dominant maleUsually live in isolation and only come together in pairs for mating
Domesticated animalsLives in the wild

Descriptions

rabbit
A rabbit

A rabbit is a small mammal that has short hind legs. The rabbit’s fur color remains the same all year round regardless of the weather.

hare

A hare is a long-eared mammal which is relatively big and has long hind legs. The hare’s fur changes from grayish-brown during the summer to white in the winter.

Rabbit vs Hare

The difference between a rabbit and a hare is most obvious at the time of birth. Newborn rabbits are called kittens while newly born hares are called leverets. Rabbits are born helpless; they are without fur and are blind. Hares, on the other hand, are born capable of independent movement, have fur, and have vision. A male rabbit is called a buck, while a male hare is called a jack. On the other hand, a female rabbit is called a doe, whereas a female hare is called a jill.

Caring for their young

When female rabbits give birth, the kittens are placed below ground, in a burrow on soft cushions or nests. These cushions have been carefully constructed by the mother using grass, soft stems, and her own fur. In this way, the kittens are kept safe, warm, and comfortable. Contrarily, female hares are more carefree with their young. They give birth on a small depression on the ground on flattened nests of grass. The leverets are precocial and are able to fend for themselves very early on.

Physical characteristics

When it comes to body size and limbs, rabbits are smaller and have shorter hind legs compared to the larger body size and longer hind legs of the hare. For rabbits, the fur color remains the same all year round as opposed to the fur color of the hare, which changes from grayish-brown during warmer seasons to white in colder seasons.

Diet and Habitat

Rabbits are herbivores and feed on soft stems, grass, vegetables, and leafy weeds. Their diet, however, contains large amounts of cellulose, which is hard to digest. This is solved through a form of hindgut fermentation. Rabbits pass two types of feces, one hard and another soft. The later is reingested to digest further and extract needed nutrients. Rabbits usually live in underground burrows or rabbit holes, meadows, forests, grasslands, deserts, and wetlands. When rabbits are hunted by their predators, they usually hide underground or hop away in zig-zag motion. At close contact, they deliver powerful kicks with their hind legs as a means of protection.

Though hares are also herbivores, they prefer eating hard or tough-textured materials such as hard barks, rind, small twigs, and shoots. These animals usually live in nests above ground and avoid predators by outrunning them, as hares are known to be fast runners.

Personality traits

Rabbits are very social animals and they move in groups. Although, the males tend to fight with others in the group to become the dominant male. This is also their way of attracting their female counterparts. The dominant male then mates with the majority of the females in the group. Rabbits are also noted to be very domesticated animals and can live as pets in any household.

Conversely, hares are considered to be shy animals and prefer solitary living. They only come in groups when mating. They are relatively peaceful animals and normally no fighting occurs among the hares for mates. However, hares are typically wild animals. They are not domesticated and are hardly ever kept as household pets.

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