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Bunny vs Hares vs Rabbit – What’s the difference?

As a kid, we almost always thought that rabbits and hares were the same. The funny thing is, although they look alike, there are standout differences to detect that we always seemed to miss. On the contrary, most people always thought that bunnies and rabbits were different animals. The reality is that both the names are used to address the same animal.

If you feel like all your childhood was a lie, we can feel you right now. Let us take you some of the fascinating differences between these species that will make your jaw drop for a long time today.

The Difference Between A Rabbit and Hare

If you leave a rabbit and a hare in the same room, it will become increasingly difficult for you to tell them apart. Both are so alike due to their long ears, strong back legs, and divided upper lip. However, there are several apparent differences that one may find easier to spot the difference.

Is a hare just a wild rabbit?

Absolutely not. Hares are usually bigger than rabbits, with longer ears and legs. They also have black markings on their fur that make them look different from rabbits. Moreover, they tend to live in open fields and meadows, while rabbits prefer small places such as burrows or holes in the ground. In contrast to bunnies and rabbits, hares are born with fur and open eyes, while bunnies and rabbits are bald when born.

Furthermore, hares can run faster than rabbits and are much more agile. Hares also tend to have a stronger sense of smell, sight, and hearing compared to rabbits. Lastly, they feed mostly on grasses but can also munch on vegetables or flowers under certain circumstances.

Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the key differences.

1. Physical appearance

Hares are more significant than a young rabbit. They have longer and strong hind legs, ears with black markings. You may even observe that the rabbit’s fur color stays the same year-round while the fur color of hares keeps changing. They continue to alter between brown and grey as per the seasons. Hares are also said to have unique skills. It is said that their skulls help them to absorb the impact from the ground as they race to and FRO.

2. Habitat

Hares are surface dwellers. They find comfort in taking shelter under shallow holes and bushes above the ground. Rabbits are entirely different creatures. They love to do a lot of digging and find solace under the surface of the earth. They live in these barren regions burrow networks of tunnels underground. This helps them feel more protected and safeguards them from hares. However, cottontail rabbits are the only different rabbit species, as a cottontail rabbit loves to survive above the ground.

3. Diet

Although rabbits and hares have similar diets, you may spot many differences as well. Hares enjoy eating rougher vegetables like roots, twigs, and even buds in many cases. However, rabbits love to munch on soft leafy grasses, bushes, and even carrots in many cases. They love edible veggies. However, their diets may turn similar during those times when the abundance of food decreases. During those times, both of them would prefer softer vegetation as the situation does not permit otherwise.

4. Group Life – Hares Live by Themselves

rabbits in green field in nature
Photo by Péter Kövesi on

Hares love their solitude. They live above the ground and enjoy fending for themselves. Thus, these independent creatures do not like to socialize much. However, rabbits live in large groups. Hares live in small societies under the ground and depend on cooperation from one another. The fun fact is that there is a hierarchy of rabbits that eventually leads up to the warren. They are also high territorial creatures, so any rabbit creature that tries to invade the place may get attacked awfully.

5. Anatomy – Hares Have Longer Ears!

Both rabbits and hares belong to the same family, Leporidae, but they are separate species. The difference between the two species is most evident in their physical attributes. Hares, including the brown hare (Lepus europaeus), typically have longer ears and legs than rabbits. These longer limbs allow hares to reach speeds that help them outrun predators in the open fields of the British countryside where they thrive. On the other hand, rabbits have shorter ears and legs, better suited for their life underground.

6. Birth and Development – Baby Hares vs. Baby Rabbits

Another startling difference between rabbits and hares lies in how their young are born. A young hare, or leveret, typically is born fully furred with eyes open. They are capable of fending for themselves shortly after birth. On the contrary, newborn rabbits, or kittens, are born without hair and with closed eyes. They require a much higher level of parental care and are kept safely in burrows dug out by their parents until they can survive independently.

7. Habitat and Behavior

Eastern cottontail rabbits, like most other species of rabbits, live in burrows underground. These holes offer them protection from predators and harsh weather. On the other hand, hares, including the brown hare, tend to live in simple nests in the grass or under bushes rather than in burrows. They rely more on their speed and agility to evade predators rather than hiding underground.

8. Adaptation

As animals of the same family (Leporidae), both rabbits and hares have developed remarkable adaptations to thrive in their respective habitats. For instance, hares have longer legs that enable them to outrun predators in open fields. They also have larger nostrils and stronger hearts to accommodate the high oxygen demand during these high-speed chases. On the other hand, rabbits, with their shorter ears and smaller bodies, are built for life in burrows and undergrowth, away from the prying eyes of predators.

9. Diet – Rabbits Prefer Soft Vegetation

Both the animals feed on a variety of vegetation. However, hares tend to eat tougher material like bark and twigs, along with grasses and buds. They have been known to nibble on vegetables or flowers under certain circumstances. In contrast, rabbits prefer softer vegetation like leaves and grasses, and the eastern cottontail rabbit is known to occasionally eat insects and other small animals.

In summary, while rabbits and hares may look similar at first glance, closer examination reveals a myriad of differences between these fascinating species.

The Difference Between A Rabbit and Bunny

close up photo of rabbit
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on

Now, let’s go over the differences between a Rabbits and a Bunny. Yes. Indeed, many people often thought that the two are different animals. But as we discussed above, they are simply two names to address the same animal, rabbit. Rabbits are pretty cute animals and are called to describe different animal species related to one another.

The European Rabbit and Domestic Rabbit are the most common kinds where the term rabbit is used to address them. On the other hand, Bunny is a colloquial word that people generally use to describe rabbits’ cuteness. Thus, the term bunny is used primarily for adorable-looking young bunnies or dwarf ones.

For example- The baby dog is called a puppy to refer to its cuteness and its youth. However, that does not mean that a puppy is not a dog. The difference between Bunny and rabbit is precisely the same.

Do rabbits breed with hares?

No, rabbits and hares do not typically breed with one another. This is primarily because they are separate species and their reproductive characteristics may differ quite a bit. For example, while cottontail rabbits give birth to litters of 3-5 babies, hares can have up to 8 or more in each litter. This difference in reproductive biology makes breeding between the two species very difficult.

Furthermore, the offspring of a rabbit-hare pairing are infertile and cannot reproduce themselves, which makes it even less likely that such a pairing will occur in nature. Therefore, while rabbits and hares may look similar to one another, they remain separate species with different reproductive abilities.

The Bottom Line

Hares and rabbits, both herbivores, share many similarities in their lifestyles and appearances. However, it is their differences that make them unique and distinguishable from one another. Leverets, the young of hares, are born fully furred and with their eyes open, while rabbits are born hairless and blind. Hares are known for their speed and agility in the wild, often hiding among trees to escape predators. In contrast, rabbits are more likely to live in warrens or nests underground. Hares also have a longer gestation period compared to rabbits.

Despite these distinctions, both hares and rabbits are fascinating mammals that inhabit our world.

So, the next time they ask you to choose between an easter bunny or an easter hare, you won’t have to think twice!