Differences between Rabbits and Hares

Although they belong to the same family (the Leporidae ), there are many differences between rabbits and hares. Depending on the species, these discrepancies can appear more or less noticeable.

From birth it is possible to appreciate the points of discontinuity between these two types of rodents. For example, while a hare is born with fur and fully developed, a rabbit’s life cycle is much more gradual and slower. In addition, his motor skills are also impaired, until he reaches adulthood.

Their habits are also different. By nature, the rabbit hides in dangerous situations. Instead, the hare tends to run away, leaving the danger zone.

For these reasons, among others, the hare was chosen as a sport hunting animal, while a significant part of rabbits are now raised on farms or even chosen by families as a pet.

Differences between rabbits and hares

The differences between rabbits and hares concern both their physiognomy and their habits. Physically, rabbits have a rounder head and two-sided eyes. The body and legs are shorter than those of a hare, showing a more elongated and muscular structure.

Dimensions and weight

Hares are generally larger  than rabbits, their ears and limbs are much more stylized. This characteristic makes the hare an excellent runner, much better than the rabbit, which is inclined to move with small jumps.

The rabbit’s body is fatter than that of the hare and its ears are much shorter. Its average weight varies from 1.5 to 2 kg, while its size can reach 50 centimeters in adulthood.

For its part, the hare can weigh between 3 and 4 kilos and its standard size is around 40-60 centimeters. It can reach up to 70 centimeters , as in the case of the polar hare .

In hares the size of the ears is distinguished, which can reach measures greater than 11 centimeters.

Fur

Although the fur varies depending on the rabbit or hare species, there are some identifiable differences. For example, hares show  black spots on their skin. Also, as we said before, their young are born with their bodies already completely covered in hair. Even the changes affects the two species differently. The hare sheds its hair in autumn and spring, taking on a white color in cold areas. Conversely, rabbits do it during the winter.

Habits that differentiate rabbits and hares

Habitat

Unlike rabbits, which live inside burrows, hares prefer open spaces . To protect themselves, they choose bushes or nests built just above the ground. These habits make hares more vulnerable to hunting.

Reproduction

Both rabbits and hares are considered great breeders. However, differences in the mating ritual and gestation period are also appreciated .

To choose her partner , the hare makes the male run a great distance behind her. In this way, he not only tests his interest, but also tests his endurance. When the female is not ready for mating , she faces the male by standing up and protecting herself with her two front legs.

The gestation period of rabbits is 30 days, while in the hare it lasts 42. Rabbit babies are born with their eyes closed, without fur and unable to walk. As a result, the mother rabbit shows an overprotective attitude towards her young.

Daily activity

The hare is by nature independent and solitary.  Rabbits, on the other hand, are used to living in patriarchal colonies. In threatening situations, the hare flees, while the rabbit hides in its hole.

Another noteworthy difference is that rabbits have a higher level of  domestication than hares. Rabbit farms are very common and, due to their docility and appearance, today they are often kept indoors as real pets. On the other hand, no hare will ever be compatible with life in an enclosed space or in a closed apartment.

Similarities between rabbits and hares

As you have seen, there are several elements that make rabbits and hares not as similar as they might seem. Obviously, however, there are as many points in common , which we have summarized in the following list:

  • Both rabbits and hares are mammals belonging to the order of Lagomorphs .
  • They are herbivorous animals . Their diet is exclusively vegetarian.
  • They use their hind legs to jump . Even if the hare prefers to use them for running.
  • They are characterized by a high level of reproduction. They can have four to eight litters in the same year, and have between three and eight pups in each.
  • Both are wild animals whose skin and flesh are consumed by humans. Their limbs are considered trophies in sport hunting tournaments.