Is There a Difference Between a Rabbit and a Hare?
Although rabbits and hares look so much alike that they are often mistaken for each other, there are significant differences in physical appearance, behavior, and even lifestyles between them. The easiest time to notice this difference is at birth.
Newborn rabbits called kittens or bunnies are blind and naked, totally dependent on their mothers. Baby hares called leverets are born with their eyes open, and are ready to scamper from danger just minutes after birth. Infant hares are also covered with short fur, so it’s easy to remember this difference – baby hares have hair.
As both animals mature, hares become larger than rabbits, and have longer legs and bigger ears with black markings. While rabbits’ fur stays the same color year-round, hares change color from brown or gray in the summer to white in the winter.
Rabbits and hares even tend to eat different foods. While rabbits prefer softer grasses and vegetables like carrots, hares like to eat harder bark and twigs. Rabbits make their homes in burrows underground, while hares make nests above ground. Only the cottontail rabbit is known to make above-ground nests similar to those of hares.
Their different living habits make rabbits and hares respond to danger differently. Rabbits prefer to head underground to hide. Hares, on the other hand, use their longer, stronger hind legs to run away from danger.
Rabbits can be domesticated and kept as pets; hares stay wild. This reflects their behavior in the wild. Rabbits tend to be social animals that live in groups. Hares spend most of their time by themselves, only pairing up occasionally to mate.