Are Hares & Rabbits the Same? Understanding the Differences

HomeFactsAre Hares & Rabbits the Same? Understanding the Differences
Quick Answer:Hares and rabbits are similar, but have distinct physical features and behaviors. Hares are generally larger and faster than rabbits, have longer ears and legs, and prefer to live in open spaces.

Have you ever noticed how similar hares and rabbits look, yet wondered if they were the same? It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves. We may think that because they look alike, they must be related – but is this true? In this article, we’ll delve into the facts about hares and rabbits to determine whether there are any differences between them.

It’s easy to assume that hares and rabbits are one and the same when it comes to their physical characteristics and behavior. But looks can be deceiving. While these animals share some similarities, there are also distinct differences which set them apart from each other. To understand why hares and rabbits aren’t really as similar as we might think, let’s take a closer look at what makes them unique!

So what sets these two species apart? As it turns out, not only do they possess different physical attributes such as size and fur coloration; they even belong to separate genera in scientific classification! We’ll explore all of these points further in our exploration of hares vs rabbits – so stay with us to learn more!

Overview Of Hares And Rabbits

Hares and rabbits are two animals that seem nearly identical – they’re so similar, you could say they were twins! But while hares and rabbits may look like indistinguishable siblings, they actually have a few key differences. In this section, we will explore the overview of hares and rabbits, compare their similarities and differences, and lay out the distinguishing features between them.

To begin with, hares are much larger than rabbits. Hares can reach up to twice the size of a rabbit; in some cases, even more astonishingly large! As far as physical characteristics go, hares generally have longer ears than those of a rabbit’s. Furthermore, their fur is usually browner in color compared to most breeds of domestic rabbits. On the other hand, although both animals possess long hind legs for jumping or running away from danger quickly, it is easier to distinguish adult hares from adult rabbits by observing their behavior when scared: typically hares will freeze instead of hopping away.

Despite these obvious distinctions between the two species – which we’ll discuss further in the next section – there are also many similarities between them. For example, both creatures typically live solitary lives but during mating season form temporary social groups called warrens (or colonies). Additionally, despite being preyed upon by several predators such as foxes or owls due to their small stature and lack of defenses against attacks; both species use camouflage effectively by blending into their natural environments to avoid detection.

With all this knowledge about how closely related these two genera are yet still differentiable through particular features now established, let us move onto exploring the distinguishing characteristics of each animal separately in greater detail.

Distinguishing Features

One of the main distinguishing features between hares and rabbits is their physical characteristics. Hares have longer legs, larger feet, and taller hind legs than rabbits do. They also tend to be browner in color, while most rabbits are gray or black. Additionally, hares’ fur tends to be coarser than that of a rabbit’s fur.

In terms of body size, hares are generally much larger than rabbits; they can weigh up to three times as much! Moreover, adult hares can grow over two feet long from head to tail compared to an average-sized rabbit which only grows about one foot long.

Finally, another significant difference between these two animals lies in the shape of their ears – hares have pointed ears whereas rabbits have shorter rounder ears. This helps them pick up on sound more efficiently in order for them to detect potential predators or prey nearby. Transitioning into the next section, we will explore some other behavioral characteristics of hares that make them unique from rabbits.

Characteristics Of Hares

It’s easy to mistake a hare for a rabbit, but there are many differences between these two animals. While they may look similar on the surface, hares have some unique characteristics that set them apart from rabbits. Here are four distinctive traits of hares:

  • Fur Color: Hares typically have gray-brown fur with black tips and white bellies. In contrast, rabbits normally have brown or tan fur with lighter bellies.
  • Running Speed: Hares can run up to 45 miles per hour while rabbits only reach speeds of 10 miles per hour when running away from predators.
  • Size Differences: Adult hares usually weigh between 3-11 pounds whereas adult rabbits typically range in weight from 1 ½ – 4 pounds.
  • Reproduction Rate: Female hares produce three litters each year compared to one litter every year for female rabbits.

Hares also tend to live alone and make their homes in open fields rather than burrows like rabbits do. This solitary lifestyle makes it easier for them to outrun predators at high speeds and evade capture more easily than their smaller counterparts. Additionally, unlike mature male rabbits, male hares play no role in raising their young after mating season is over. With so many distinct physical features and behaviors, it’s clear that although related, there are significant differences between hares and rabbits.

Characteristics Of Rabbits

Rabbits have distinctive physical characteristics that can easily be distinguished from hares. The fur of a rabbit is typically short and soft, while the fur of a hare is longer and rougher in texture. Rabbits also possess large ears which are set high on their head compared to hares who have shorter, more rounded ears. A comparison of these features can be seen in the table below:

Feature Rabbit Hare
Fur Short & Soft Long & Rough
Ears Large & High Set Smaller & Rounded
Teeth 28-30 teeth total (12 molars) 30-32 teeth total (14 molars)
Tail Short, stubby tail Long black-tipped tail
Feet/Legs 4 toes on front feet; 5 toes on hind feet with long back legs for hopping. 4 toes on each foot with shorter legs than rabbits.

Additionally, rabbits have 28-30 teeth in total, including 12 molars while hares have 30-32 teeth in total, including 14 molars. Lastly, rabbits possess short, stubby tails compared to hares who have longer tails that tip in black at the end. From this we can see that both animals differ significantly when it comes to physical characteristics such as fur type, ear shape, number of teeth and length of tail. Moving onto differences in behavior…

Differences In Behavior

The differences between hares and rabbits are more than skin deep. They have different behavior patterns, which further distinguish them from one another.

Hares utilize their speed as a defense mechanism to evade predators; they can run up to 45 miles an hour! Their foraging habits also differ from those of rabbits, as hares prefer to feed on vegetation during the day rather than at night like most other nocturnal animals do. The ground is their playground, where they bound around in search of food. In contrast, rabbits tend to rest in underground burrows or hide under dense foliage when threatened.

Their dietary needs also vary significantly: while both species eat carrots and lettuce leaves—a staple in many pet diets—rabbits relish clover and bark wood shavings, whereas hares enjoy grasses roots and twigs much more than their rabbit counterparts. The distinction between these two species lies not only in physical features but also in behavioral patterns such as activity time, habitat preference, diet preferences, and defensive strategies.


Moving on from the differences in behavior between hares and rabbits, let’s look at their taxonomy. Taxonomically speaking, hares are of a different genus than rabbits; they belong to the Lepus genus whereas rabbits belong to the Oryctolagus genus. Within these genera there are several species: for example, within the lepus genus there is the European Hare (Lepus europaeus), the Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus) and Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus). In contrast, within the oryctolagus genus we have domestic rabbit species such as fancy breeds like Flemish Giants or Netherland Dwarfs, as well as wild species including Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) and European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

When comparing both genera and species, it becomes apparent that while hares and rabbits share some similarities in appearance and behavior, they can be distinguished by subtle physical characteristics such as size, ears shape and coloration. Furthermore:

  1. Hares generally have longer legs compared to rabbits which allow them to move more quickly over open ground.
  2. The tail of a hare is usually black-tipped rather than white like most rabbit tails.
  3. Hares also tend to have larger ears with more fur around them than those of a rabbit.

It’s clear then that although related through evolution, hares and rabbits have distinct features that set them apart from one another – allowing us to identify each group accurately when observing them in nature or exploring different types of pet ownership opportunities!


In conclusion, hares and rabbits are not the same. While they may share some characteristics, their physical features and behaviors differ greatly. It’s remarkable how two animals that look so similar can be from different genera! Ultimately, understanding the distinctions between them is key in appreciating their uniqueness – a lesson we could all learn from.

As an aside, it would be wise to apply this knowledge of difference beyond just animals; as humans, it’s important to recognize our own similarities while still respecting each other’s unique qualities. After all, variety is the spice of life! We should embrace diversity rather than fear it.

By doing so, we can create a more harmonious world where everyone feels valued and accepted for who they truly are – something I believe we all strive for in today’s society. Let us remember: hares and rabbits are both wonderful creatures with distinct differences that make them special in their own way.

Bryan Moore
Bryan Moore
I am Bryan, owner of I love all animals but find myself especially drawn to rabbits. I have been very lucky to be able to turn my passion into my profession, and I am grateful every day that I get to do what I love. It is my hope that through this website, I can help others learn more about these wonderful creatures and provide them with all the information they need to care for their own rabbit. View my Full Author Page Here

Popular posts

My favorites

I'm social