What's the Difference? Rabbits, Bunnies and Hares...
Bunnies and Rabbits are a loved animal and we see more of them during the spring plastered around stores and advertisements. But a lot of us don't actually know the difference between Bunnies and Rabbits. And what about Hares too?
Well, we can start by telling you one thing they all have in common:
The Same Scientific Family
They all belong to the same mammal classification group called Lagomorpha which breaks down into two different families of the Leporidae (Hares and Rabbits) and the Ochotonidae (Pikas).
Before we talk about the difference between Rabbits and Hares, let me guess…you have two questions:
- What in the heck is a Pika?
- But what about Bunnies!?
What is a Pika?
Well, we can start by noting how adorable they are. Pikas are really stinking cute. I mean, look at them.
Look at that little squish!!!
And if you are like us, you are looking at this animal and thinking, I want one! Are they pets? Well, yes, you can purchase a Pika as a pet. However, it’s not something we recommend. We don’t want to go off our topic of discussion in this post, so to learn more about Pikas and learn why we shouldn’t adopt them as pets, check THIS LINK out.
Okay – back to our original topic…the Leporidae (Hares and Rabbits).
But what about bunnies?
Scientifically speaking, Bunnies are non-existent.
Informally speaking, they are the same thing as a Rabbit. And to some, they are considered as a word for a baby Rabbit.
Culturally speaking, Americans love to use this word in cultural references such as the Easter Bunny or Bugs Bunny. We don’t know about you, but we have never heard anyone talk about the Easter Rabbit. But because a Rabbit is a Bunny and a Bunny is a Rabbit, we only really need to answer the question:
What is the difference between a Rabbit and a Hare?
53 million years old!
Found in a coal mine in Gujarat, India by a team of paleontologists, it’s the the oldest known fossil of the Lagomorpha family ever discovered. And even though we can trace the family back 53 million years, Rabbits and Hares only diverged evolutionarily about 1 to 1.5 million years ago and have developed many differences.
BABIES: The biggest difference between Hares and Rabbits is, perhaps, the babies. Popularly known as a symbol of fertility, Rabbits/Bunnies have a short gestation period of about 30 days having anywhere from 1-14 babies. Scientifically speaking, you can call the babies “Kits.” A Hare has a 42 day gestation period having as many as 3-4 babies at a time. You can also call baby Hares “Leverets.” Kits, or baby Rabbits, are born without fur, blind, and are unable to control their own temperature. With the exception of the cottontail, Rabbits live underground and burrow – which also helps protect their young from danger. On the other hand, baby Hares (or “Leverets”) are born with all their hair and can even leave their nest within an hour of their mother giving birth. For this reason, Hares do not burrow and simply create a nest above ground and in grassy areas.
DEFENSE MECHANISMS: Another reason that Hares may not need to burrow is because they are larger and faster then their Rabbit friends. They tend to have slightly larger ears which allows them to listen better for danger and they have much larger hind legs that allow them to jump further and higher. Rabbits tend to just hide at any sign of danger. Another defense mechanism of the Hare is their ability to blend in with its surroundings. In summer, a Hare’s fur remains a grayish/brown color whereas in the winter, their fur turns more white to blend in with the snow. Rabbits will remain the same color throughout the seasons.
SOLO vs COLONY: Hares are solo animals and do not travel or live together. They only pair up while mating. Whereas Rabbits are far more social living in colonies. The male Rabbits will even fight to be a dominant male in their group, whereas Hares are not known to fight at all.
FOOD AND DIET: Nutritionally speaking, the difference between the Hare and the Rabbit is their diet. While they both eat a plant-based diet, also known as Herbivores, Rabbits eat softer plants such as leaves, grass and carrots. Hares stick to a diet of…well, sticks. Sticks and other plants that are little tougher such as bark and twigs in addition to leaves, grass and carrots too.
Are they good pets?
And our favorite topic of conversation at Petculiar…What kind of Pet does a Rabbit or Hare make?
All we want in life is to be able to boop that nose. Look at that nose!
From this perspective, the most prominent difference is that Rabbits can be domesticated and Hares cannot. Rabbits can make great pets when paired with the right owners who give them plenty of food, water, shelter and other bunny friends. Hares have not been domesticated and are not sold as pets.
Like any pet, we recommend doing your research before adopting one. But now you at least know the difference between the two!