Leporidae is a family of tiny animals that includes hares and rabbits, both of which have a similar appearance. They have large ears and legs and are nimble and nervous. Despite having many similarities, they are both unique species with a number of variances.
In this essay, we’ll respond to two crucial queries. What makes a hare different from a rabbit? Are hares quicker than rabbits as well? We’ll answer these queries so you can distinguish between them and determine which animal is the real speedy!
What is a rabbit?
Rabbits often inhabit more shrubby or wooded regions and are smaller than hares. Cottontails, tawny rabbits that live in our yards or cause havoc on our vegetable patches, are native to Canada.
However, there are other different varieties of rabbits that may be found all over the globe, from Sumatran striped rabbits in Southeast Asia to the tiny volcano rabbit, which only inhabits four volcanoes west of Mexico City.
Some animals, like the European rabbit, create enormous underground tunnel systems called “warrens” to protect themselves from predators and rear their young. Only two rabbits, including the pygmy rabbit, the tiniest rabbit in the world, dig their own burrows in North America.
Other pregnant rabbits may dig a small nest in the ground and line it with their own fur and dried grasses for reproduction. The nest helps rabbit mothers to care for their vulnerable young in a warm cloud of fur because their newborns are born blind and hairless.
What is the Difference Between Hare and Rabbit?
Hare and rabbit are occasionally used synonymously, and most of the time, it doesn’t really matter. They are already related because they are both Leporidae creatures. Additionally, they have a lot of similar qualities.
But since they are separate animal groupings, it is crucial to recognize the distinction in scientific and technological situations.
I want to contrast the hare with the rabbit in this article. Let’s examine these two creatures and see just how they vary from one another.
The Key Differences Between Hare vs Rabbit
The size, morphology, and friendliness of a hare and a rabbit are the main distinctions. Rabbits weigh less and are smaller than hares. Compared to rabbits, hares have larger legs and ears, and both of these characteristics assist the hare stay safe in its particular environment.
Rabbits are extremely gregarious creatures that frequently create warrens with other rabbits to live in. Hares are not gregarious animals, though. Except for their mating season, which is the only time of year they may be observed living together, they prefer to live and nest alone.
The distinctions between hares and rabbits are defined by these particular characteristics, but we must examine each species more closely.
Hares Are Much Larger Than Rabbits
The difference in size is the most straightforward method to tell a rabbit from a hare. Typically, hares are significantly bigger than the other kinds.
The ears and the back legs are where this most frequently shows up. The ears of a hare are larger than those of a rabbit and frequently feature black tips. Additionally, there is no breed of hare with lop ears.
The hind legs of a hare may also appear a little out of proportion to the rest of the animal. Hares are more agile and powerful than rabbits, which explains this. To increase their speed, they require these large legs.
Hare vs Rabbit: Size
Hares are bigger than rabbits because they weigh more and become bigger faster. While the average wild rabbit weighs up to 6.6 pounds and develops up to a length of 17 inches, hares may reach lengths of 28 inches and weights of 12 pounds.
Some domesticated rabbits, like the 18-pound Flemish giant, can grow considerably bigger than this.
Features of the Hare
On the surface, hares appear to be bigger than rabbits, with larger ears and rear paws. The color of a hare’s fur can also change with the season. In the spring and summer, the fur of several hare species will change from being white in the winter to reddish-brown.
Their usual pregnancy lasts 42 days, which is a little longer than a rabbit’s (30–31 days), but the way they are born is the largest distinction between the two.
Hares are completely formed when they are born. They have wide eyes and are coated with fur.
Rabbits, however, are underdeveloped when they are born. Their eyes are closed, they lack hair, and they are unable to control their body temperature. Being born underdeveloped is a phenomena known in biology as being born altricial.
Additionally, the two mammals have separate nests. While rabbits dig burrows underground, where they give birth to their young, hares spend their whole lives above ground.
Hare vs Rabbit: Color Change During Molts
While hares are known to undergo substantial color changes during their annual molting process, rabbits seldom undergo such a shift. For instance, the arctic hare has black hare throughout the summer and fall, but during their winter molt, they turn white.
Rabbits molt as well, although their fur doesn’t change color as drastically. But not all hares undergo such a noticeable change.
So what is a hare then?
Hares that are expecting don’t dig at all, in contrast. Their young, known as “leverets,” are born with eyes open and a full coat of hair. They give birth straight on the ground. They are prepared to sprint an hour after birth and are built for speed.
Hares often have longer ears, larger hind legs, and larger feet than rabbits. Because they respond to threat extremely differently than rabbits, hares need these characteristics.
While hares will go into high gear when they sense danger since they are constructed for dashing over open desert, prairie, or Arctic habitats, rabbits are quick to hide, seeking safety in dense undergrowth or within their burrow.
Rabbits can travel quite swiftly; even tamed ones have been seen to sprint at speeds of more than 50 kph. Hares, on the other hand, have significantly greater speed and endurance. For instance, brown hares are capable of traveling at speeds of more than 75 km/h.
Even some hares dress differently as the seasons alter. The snowshoe hare’s brown coat blends very nicely with its surroundings in the northern forest in the summer. They get a fresh coat of white when winter arrives and the snow starts to fall to blend in with the wintry surroundings.
Hares are More Skittish Than Rabbits
Hares are not more harmful than rabbits despite being bigger. They tend to be equally as kind and submissive. But if they sense a threat, they’ll bite—just like rabbits.
Fortunately, this won’t happen very often. Even more jittery than rabbits are hares. They won’t probably ever allow a person to approach them near enough to threaten them. At the slightest hint of impending peril, they will flee.
A hare moves quickly when it moves. According to the Conservation Institute, a hare may accelerate to 47 MPH when it feels threatened. That is nearly as quick as a cheetah. The expression “harebrained” has its roots in hares’ propensity to get quickly startled.
Hares are also less sociable with one another as a result of their edgy character. Rabbits are communal animals. In this manner, they may watch out for one another in case of danger. To alert their subterranean pals that predators are around, rabbits thumps the earth.
Hares tend to protect themselves first. They display a spotless pair of heels when difficulty arrives. Because of this, most hares forage alone, however some do live in couples.
Hare vs Rabbit: Morphology
Their morphology, particularly the legs and ears, is one of the most significant variations between hares and rabbits. Hares are bigger than rabbits and have longer legs and ears. Since their legs are shorter, rabbits have a smaller overall appearance and their bodies are not as high off the ground while they are resting.
Hares have bigger ears as well, and it’s thought that they utilize those ears to locate prey in their distinct environments, which are much more open than those that rabbits live in.
Live in Different Habitats
Where they live is another crucial distinction between rabbits and hares. Rabbits live underground and construct warrens. Hares like building their nests outside.
This is due to how much bigger hares are. They couldn’t possibly squeeze into a warren. A sufficiently enough hole would also expose them to assault. Simply said, it would take too long.
Juvenile hares are also not as helpless as young rabbits. Baby hares are almost instantly prepared to leave the nest, unlike newborn otters, which are born blind and hairless. They have fur and the capacity to run and hop from birth.
It doesn’t follow from this that a mother hare would leave her young. They’ll go early for their own explorations but return to the next later.
Hare vs Rabbit: Choice of Homes
Rabbits either reside in enormous subterranean warrens or in burrows that they steal from other animals. They are protected from predators by these extensive, intricate systems of tunnels, which also provide them with a number of secure departure routes from the earth.
Hares often dwell above ground, and they frequently construct extremely simple nests. When other animals have left tree hollows, they will occasionally live there.
They can afford to dwell in a wider range of environments since they do not need to host numerous other members of their species.
Where did the word bunny come from?
What about rabbits, and more particularly the Easter bunny? Originally (and perhaps still today), the name “bunny” was used to refer to a young female. It began to signify a young and/or little animal throughout time, and currently it often refers to a rabbit.
But the Easter hare and Kris Kringle customs were brought by German immigrants. Children would locate a peaceful area of their home the night before Easter and construct a nest out of garments for the Easter hare to deposit eggs (the origin of the Easter basket). On its passage over the Atlantic, the name “hare” was abandoned in favor of the cozier, fuzzier word “bunny.”
Why would a hare lay those Easter eggs instead of, say, a chicken? Hares and rabbits’ incredibly brief gestation periods and well-known rapid reproduction have a long-standing cultural link with spring and fertility. Hares are typically solitary, shy animals, but between March and April, when they are engaged in their spring mating ritual, people may most easily spot them.
The expression “mad as a March hare” alludes to that mating season, when hares can be observed fighting as part of their rambunctious wooing ritual. Eggs are another fertility symbol, and as Catholics were previously forbidden from eating them during the Lenten fast, they were included to the Easter feast.
Although there is a lot going on in those connections, it appears like the bunny-egg entanglement will continue.
Are Rabbits And Hares The Same Animal?
Many people equate the phrases “rabbit” with “hare.” Although they both belong to the lagomorph family of mammals, they are very distinct creatures.
When you are aware of the differences between hares and rabbits, you can recognize each species at a glance. The differences range from the aesthetically pleasing to the behavioral.
It’s important to know the distinction between a hare and a rabbit. In their native environment, these creatures will respond differently when noticed.
Hare vs Rabbit: Which One is Faster?
Hares move more quickly than rabbits. The European rabbit typically travels at around 25 mph, although the cape hare may speed up to 45 mph. To get to the protection and cover of trees, tall grass, and other overgrowths, rabbits simply need their speed.
Hares will just try to outrun any approaching predators. They are frequently too swift for most creatures to catch. However, they are not totally protected from predators. Hares and rabbits can be caught before they reach their peak speeds by owls, avian raptors, and smart ambush predators.
Although there are many parallels between hares and rabbits, there are also many and major distinctions. The differences between these species may be seen in their anatomy, habitats, preferred homes, and speeds.
Where did the word rabbit come from?
Coneys, a shortening of the Latin word cuniculus, was the name given to rabbits up to the 18th century.
Before the term became widely used, rabbit originally referred to coneys’ young. By the way, that’s where the name Coney Island (or Rabbit Island), the New York amusement park on the ocean, comes from. It’s one of the few still-in-use coney allusions in North America.
Is that a rabbit or a hare? Small forest rodents of the hare and rabbit species are distinct from one another. Although they visually resemble one another, they are separate species.
Learn the biological distinctions between these animals if your work calls for accurate taxonomic animal identification.
However, if you merely say “rabbit” in casual settings, people will generally understand what you mean.
For a fast review of rabbit vs. hare, you can always read this page again if you still need assistance.