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What’s the Difference Between Rabbits and Hares?

What’s the Difference Between Rabbits and Hares?

You’ve probably seen both of these furry mammals hopping around at least once in your life, but did you know that while they may look similar, they are actually quite different animals in many ways. Hares and rabbits are in the same family, called Leporidae, but they are completely different species. It’s like comparing a sheep to a goat. And you wouldn’t mix them up would you? So, what exactly separates the two animals? Quite a bit, as you will see.

Rabbits and hares literally start diverging in different directions from the moment they are born. The first difference is in the length of their pregnancy. The hare will typically have a pregnancy lasting around 42 days, while a rabbit only has their bunny in the oven for 30 to 31 days. Hares actually come out fully developed at birth, with a full coat of fur and eyes wide open, and they are referred to as leverets. Rabbits, on the other hand, come out of the oven not quite fully formed, with no fur, closed eyes, and an inability to regulate their own temperature. In case you’re wondering, rabbits are called kittens or kits at birth.

That’s not the only major differences between these two furry critters. The nests, or homes, of hares and rabbits are also complete opposites. Rabbits live underground in a burrow or warren, hence why they have the stereotype of constantly burrowing holes underneath people’s gardens. Hares, however, live completely above ground, and don’t actually do any burrowing whatsoever. Did you know that Bugs Bunny is actually a fraud because of this rule? He’s technically a hare, but he burrows like a rabbit, making him a rather odd exception to the rule. I still love him, though.

Hares and rabbits live very different lives as well. Hares are quite light on their feet and are equipped with speedy reflexes. This is likely because they tend to live out on the open plain where they need speed and good reflexes to avoid predators. A hare can run as fast as 37 body lengths per second. That’s faster than a cheetah, which can run at only 23 body lengths per second. That’s also why these more flighty animals don’t make good pets the way calm and cuddly rabbits do, and never really relax around humans, even when raised in captivity from birth. You’d best stick to the more sedate bunny for a cuddle buddy.

Have you ever owned a rabbit? What do you think makes them such great pets?