Many people think that rabbits and hares are the same. They both have tiny size, furry skin, strong hind legs, A large ears, and adorable fluffy tails. But rabbits and hares have many differences despite their similar appearances.
Rabbits and hares do not come under the same category of genus and species. So these two can not breed with each other. Though rabbits and hares are animals that exist in the wild, there are no domestic hare pets. During their birth, rabbits do not have fur and look tiny, but hares are large.
In general, mistaking the rabbits and hares as one another happens. Many people call hares with tricky names such as “jackrabbits.” Due to this, differentiating these two is becoming harder than usual. But, hares and rabbits come with many crucial differences that differ from each other. Let’s get into their similarities, differences, attitudes, and traits.
Difference In Visual Appearance
If you have a pet animal with fluffy fur, large ears, and a soft tail, it is almost sure that it is a rabbit. As the hares are not domestic pets, it is not easy to approach them. Due to their behavior of being timid and anxious, they are not a decent choice as pets!
When you are in the wild, if a furry animal is running away, it might be a hare or a wild rabbit. Though these two animals stay in the wild, they have many differences in their looks and behavior.
There are a few easiest tricks you can use to differentiate rabbits and hares. One of the best tips is by seeing its physical appearance. These two animals have the same body shapes, but there are many differences you can use to recognize the hare and rabbit.
The first thing to look at is their size. In general, rabbits are a little tinier than hares. Due to the different types of breeds, it is hard to define the ideal size of every rabbit. But, many rabbits are around 14 to 19 inches long. The average length of the hares is between 16 to 28 inches.
Hares have long legs with greater strength than rabbits. They always have straight ears and are very long. Though a few rabbits have upright ears, many of the breed rabbits come with floppy ears.
Here is another similarity, both rabbits and hares grow thick furry skin. In the winter months, hares change their fur color to white from brown or grey. But rabbits have the same fur color throughout the year. During the fall and spring seasons, hares and rabbits will go under skin molts.
Besides the skin, coloration is another method people use to recognize hares and rabbits. In general, hares have a uniform and matching fur. Meanwhile, rabbits are available in a wide range of shapes, colors, characters, and structures. Hare animals come with grey or brown skin and include tiny black markings. Also, they have long ears with tips in black.
In general, depending on the place the hares live, their coloration varies. Many of them have the same color fur as their surroundings, and they can blend in with ease.
Up to now, you saw the physical or visual differences between rabbits and hares. Besides their skin, they have many other differences between them. You can identify the rabbits and hares by watching their behavior.
Remember, the rabbits and hares have unique habitation structures and shelter necessities. Rabbits are natural burrowers, and they like the protection and safety from the belowground tunnels. If you own a rabbit, you might have come across situations where the rabbit attempts to make a hole by digging.
As for the hares, they stay above the surface and will rest in nests. Rather than being borrowers, hares are ground-dwellers. Hares are nocturnal animals, and they tend to stay active during the night.
When the rabbits and hares are in danger, they use different methods. These two are careful creatures and always stay on alert because of the predator animals and other risks. When they come across a threat, rabbits try to hide in their burrow and freeze themselves. Meanwhile, hares being runners will escape the situation by running away! Hares use their long, athletic legs to escape when they sense a threatening situation.
Even for the outdoor environments, the rabbits and hares have many differences. With the help of their dominant legs and lightweight bones, these two animals can swim. But hares remain more happy and comfortable in the water than rabbits. Rabbits swim only for their survival, and they can come under heavy stress and fur tearing. In extreme cases, they also suffer from hypothermia.
But, hares are always cheerful and comfortable to be in the water. They can swim in different water bodies like canals, rivers, lakes, seas, and streams.
As for the social pattern of hares and rabbits, they also differ from each other. Rabbits, being social creatures, will exist in groups of 10-15 rabbits with one prominent male. On the other hand, hares are distant, and they will get a pair if it is their mating time.
Due to this crucial difference in their community structure, it is easy to tell them apart. Rabbits tend to fight more for territory, companions, and authority. Hares are comfortable living alone, and fighting is not a common sight in them. When it is time to mate for the hares, they will join another hare!
Difference In Food And Diet
Both the rabbits and hares are herbivore animals. These two depend on a wide variety of grass, plants, fungi, fruits, veggies, and other berries. But, rabbits and hares have their diet preferences along with food restrictions.
Rabbits and hares need to eat plenty of grass and fiber-rich food. It helps them to file down their teeth and boosts their digestive system. Hay and grass are the crucial part of their meals. Rabbits like to eat softer grass, but hares will also digest tree barks and twigs. It is a complete and healthy fibrous meal!
Hares can consume the foods that rabbits can not eat. Various nuts, grains, and seeds are a part of the hare’s supplementary foods. But rabbits cannot digest them as they have high-fat levels. Due to the rabbit’s sensitive digestion procedure, it will get sick when it eats these foods.
Hares have plenty of food sources because they will also eat their droppings! You might find this awful, but hares get the needed nutrition from it. Hares do not have a superb digestive stomach as herbivores, like deer and cows. So, they can not eat all the essential food nutrients before digestion.
Due to the above reason, hares begin to eat and absorb their droppings. It provides them another chance to eat essential nutrients from before.
Rabbits and hares will only eat the food they find above the ground. They would not make holes in the soil for getting root vegetables. Hares and rabbits have the essential physique to eat foods like beets, carrots, parsnips, and more. But they do not take action to dig these root vegetables. So these foods are not the primary part of their daily diet.
Fruits, veggies, and various berries are supplementary or treat foods for the rabbits and hares. These foods are rich in fat or sugar levels, and they also have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other necessary elements. The above foods help in moderation. But if the animals are eating them too much, they will suffer from a sick stomach and other health risks.
Differences In Their Life Cycle And Breeding
From the above information, you might know that hares and rabbits live in different social patterns. Hares live alone and isolate themselves. But rabbits stay in communities or groups.
The breeding style is different for both the hares and rabbits. The wild hares breed at a particular time which is from January to August. Meanwhile, rabbits living in the wild will breed between December to June. But the domestic pet rabbits can breed anytime in a year.
Rabbits, on average, get four to eight litters every year. But, hares can have only two or three litters per year. Rabbits carry their babies for around 31 days, and the hares will take up to 40 days. When the baby hares are born, they will have open eyes with a fur coat. But, baby rabbits (kits) do not have hair nor sight when they are born.
Hares will be self-reliant at an early age than rabbits. It takes around a month for the hares to wean off and a few years to be sexually mature. Rabbits can become developed for sexual purposes when they are one year old.
When the male rabbits are between eight to twelve weeks, their sexual drive will start. Females will be mature when they are four to six months old.
On average, the lifespan of hares living in the wild is around four to eight years. But the maximum life span of hares is twelve years. Domestic pet rabbits can live for eight to twelve years, but the wild rabbits will last only six or seven years. The ultimate lifespan of both hares and rabbits is the same. But they tend to live short if they stay in the wild.
Predator animals, sickness, and food shortage are typical reasons for the death of rabbits and hares. A few humans hunt these creatures for their skin and meat. Hares tend to have a gamier aroma, and it has chicken flavor and taste!
The below video shows the overview of all the above information. This video features high-end differences between hares and rabbits. It also has some methods for telling apart the rabbits and hares.
At last, rabbits and hares have a few similarities, but they both are different creatures. Their lifestyle, appearance, attitude, patterns, and foods are different from each other. Due to the many differences, they are in separate genera!
Breeding rabbits and hares together is a bit impossible. If you like the personalities of pet rabbits, this is a good thing!