There’s a beautiful and cute animal hopped into your backyard. Now you may be wondering, is that a rabbit, or bunny, or a hare? Are they the same or different? A heads-up is that the rabbit is a synonym for the bunny, and the rabbit or bunny and Hare are two different species. The rabbit vs hare battle is as cute as they both are.
In the movie Rise of the Guardians, the Easter Bunny is a legendary Guardian who protects the children from the treacherous bogeyman. Suppose you’ve observed that the bunny in this movie has tall ears. It is not a characteristic feature of the bunny or rabbit. Yes, I get it. It’s an animated movie, and I should not bother such details. The point is the feature you will notice in a rabbit or Hare is their ears.
The rabbit or bunny has smaller ears when compared with Hare. That is why the Easter Bunny in the movie bothered me throughout the run time. Anyway, if you question me that what is the difference between a rabbit and a hare? I would say ears first. So, still confused about rabbit vs bunny vs hare? Read more.
The Hare is a larger mammal than the rabbit. The limbs, feet, and ears are bigger in hares. Both belong to the same order Lagomorpha, and the same family Leporidae. As they belong to the same family, there are some common characteristics such as:
- Short tail
- Similar body build
- Same morphological features in the head
Because of these similarities, it is often difficult to distinguish between hare vs rabbit.
But if you pay heed to some details, you can differentiate between them easily. The black markings on the fur is a distinguishing feature seen in hares. Hares live by building nests on the ground, whereas rabbits live in burrows. Another distinguishing feature is rabbits live in groups, but hares are solitary creatures or live in pairs.
Depending on the climatic condition, both the mammals will change the color of the fur. The rabbit’s fur turns completely white in tundras, an evolutionary feature to avoid predators.
The common ancestor of rabbits is the European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus. These rabbits were introduced to all parts of the world except the Antarctic. The genus Sylvilagus is the common wild European rabbit, and most of its species are cottontails. The tail’s underside is white and is used to alert other members when they sense a threat.
There are 32 species in Hare classified under the genera Lepus. Depending on the region and the climatic condition, the morphology of the Hare varies. The antelope hare or antelope jackrabbit (Lepus alleni) is the largest species native to southern Arizona and New Mexico.
The name bunny, kitten, or kit is the younger rabbit, whereas the juvenile Hare is called leverets. Male hares are called ‘jack,’ and female is ‘jill.’ The term ‘coneys’ is used to describe the offspring of the rabbits. It is derived from the Latin word ‘cuniculus,’ meaning rabbit. Hence the scientific name Oryctolagus cuniculus.
Unlike dogs and cats that are domesticated exclusively as pets, rabbits are domesticated as a pet as well as for food. Rabbits are popular small pets next to hamster. The hares are not domesticated in any part of the world. They are popular prey animals hunted for food and fun; another distinguishing heritage between bunny vs hare.
Since the rabbits are social animals, they were easy to domesticate and are often referred to as excellent companion pets. They are also kept as amusement pets in small zoos, but you cannot keep a hare because it develops severe stress disorder in captivity.
Hares are always relentless. They run or spook even to the slightest sound. It is another reason they were not successfully domesticated and don’t be fooled by the name ‘jackrabbit.’
If you are willing to get a pet rabbit, make sure, you pick a healthy one. A closer look at the rabbit from the store will help rule out some obvious health conditions.
Provide a good cage at a minimum of four times the size of the rabbit. Add natural hay/grass type bedding and provide plenty of toys. The rabbits are active and playful; hence you need to provide sufficient space and fun activities.
They are trainable but requires a lot of patience, especially for litter training. Rabbits are coprophagous, which means that they eat their feces, commonly seen in smaller mammals.
If you want to keep the rabbit outdoor in a hutch, they will likely develop separation stress and anxiety. But if you let your rabbit outdoors frequently, a hutch will be a joy for them.
Feed the bunny with plenty of green veggies, fresh grass, and quality pellet. Their health depends on how good the diet you feed them.
Grooming is not an option; they are heavy shedders, and it happens once every three months. Brush them at least once a week with a soft brush. The skin of the rabbit is very delicate and requires a suitable rubber brush.
If your pet develops matted hair, don’t cut it with scissors because there’s a high possibility of injuring the skin. You should be very patient with your hands and a comb to separate the matted hair. It might require several sessions to succeed.
Weekly trimming of nails is also mandatory as a part of the grooming session. Bathing is not needed as it might stress them. If you feel that bathing is mandatory, perform a spot cleaning with a wet cloth. But the rabbit’s fur takes a very long time to dry, so it is advised to use a hairdryer with extreme caution. And again, high power or high heat hair dryers will injure the skin.
Have you ever heard the term ‘mad as a March hare’? It is the term used to describe the male Hare during the mating season. The males will chase the females for several miles when they come to heat. If the male succeeds in catching the female, she will let him mate.
Rabbits live groups, and there will be one alpha. The dominant male is the one who is victorious after the battle with the other males in the group. Once he wins the battle, he will mate with several females of the colony.
The new-born rabbits are hairless and blind (altricial) that requires parental care for some time. Hares are born precocial, mature, with fur, and aren’t blind. They fend on their own very soon after birth. This is another primary distinguishing feature between rabbit vs hare.
Understood the Differences?
Rabbit vs Hare is a cute comparison, yet this article intends to identify the differences. The primary difference is that the rabbit or bunny can be domesticated, whereas Hare cannot. Even if you bottlefeed the Hare from day one of its birth, they would be stressed out in your presence.
Rabbits require good space and a healthy diet. They litter many times a day, so it is ideal to house them in cages or places with good ventilation. There should be sufficient airflow and light so that the foul odor will not get stagnated.
If everything is done perfectly, they will be excellent companion pets. With proper diet and care, they can survive longer than in their natural habitat (14 – 16 years).
Are bunnies and rabbits the same? No, they aren’t. You know this very well now. Have you decided to get your Eastern Bunny? If yes, please let us know. We would love to hear your story.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.