What do you think about rabbits, bunnies, and hares? The most common answer to our question was, “They’re all the same! Why are you even asking this? Everyone knows the answer.” But does everyone know the answer?
Many people think rabbits and hares are the same animals, but they’re actually distant cousins with distinctive features. Surprised? We understand why.
And, we aren’t talking about the “bunny” yet because that’s another exciting story we’ll tell you at the end of this article. Right now, let’s focus on rabbits and hares. In the end, you’ll understand our point on bunny vs. rabbit vs. hare.
Animals That Look Like Rabbits
Rabbits are so cute! Their long ears, furry bodies, and adorable faces make them just irresistible. If it were possible for us, we would hold onto them and never let go!
You already know some animals look like rabbits, such as hares and pikas. While pikas are easily differentiable, hares look similar to a rabbit. You won’t be able to distinguish between them unless you know the apparent differences to look for. So, to help you out, we are here with some differences between a hare and a rabbit for any future appearances of the animals.
Difference Between Rabbit and Hare
As we said before, a rabbit and a hare have a lot of differences, biologically and in physical appearance. They are entirely different species that fall in the same family, “Leporidae.”
You can easily identify them once you go through the difference between them. No, worries! We won’t keep you waiting anymore. Let’s get to it.
Fun Fact : Remember the popular TV show Bugs Bunny; we all have probably seen or heard of it. In some episodes, they used the words “rabbit” and “hare” interchangeably. This could easily confuse anyone into believing both are the same.
🐰 What Do Hares Look Like?
Hares are comparatively larger than rabbits. Their body size, longer ears, and legs are more significant than wild rabbits. A hare can be as large as 28 inches and weigh about 12lbs to 13lbs. Moreover, they also have a short tail like a rabbit, but it’s a little longer and not round-shaped.
Although it’s possible to find a pet rabbit more giant than a hare because of artificial breeding, take the Flemish Giant Rabbit, for example. They were actually bred for meat, but the bone-to-meat ratio led them to be popular domesticated rabbits to keep as pets.
Fun Fact : Hares have a unique kinetic skull allowing them to control the movement between some of the skull bones.
🐰 What Do Rabbits Look Like?
Rabbits are shorter in size compared to hares. They even have short legs and ears. A wild rabbit can grow only 17 inches long and weigh about 6.6lbs, except for an exceptional domesticated breed that we mentioned earlier, which can grow 18 inches in length. Moreover, a rabbit’s tail is usually round, like a cotton ball. That is why they have a breed named cottontail.
Fun Fact : Here’s another fun fact for you! A ‘jackrabbit’ is actually a hare, but a ‘swamp hare’ is a rabbit despite their names telling the opposite.
🐇 Hare vs Rabbit Speed
You do know rabbits are fast, right? But do you know who is even faster? Hares! Believe it or not, they are super fast. In this part of the article, we will briefly discuss the speed between the two species.
- Rabbits are marvelous diggers. But they aren’t much of a runner. Although, it doesn’t mean they can’t run. A rabbit can reach a speed of 25 to 30mph. That’s pretty fast!
- On the other hand, hares are born runners. Their long legs help them achieve a speed of 35 to 45mph. Speed is very crucial for hares as they can’t dig burrows like rabbits, so their only escape from predators is running.
Did you know : A European hare can run at 37 body lengths per second, whereas a Cheetah, known as the fastest runner, can only manage 23 body lengths per second. Interesting, no?
🐇 Living Habitats of Hares and Rabbits
We talked about a hare’s and a rabbit’s looks and ability to run fast. Now all that is left is their habitats. You may think their habitats aren’t that different, but it is. So let’s look at it along with some ways of living.
Where Do Rabbits Live?
Rabbits tend to live in places with trees, plants, and bushes. Do you know why? Because these places are great for hiding from predators.
Moreover, if they make a burrow near a bush or bushy plant, their baby rabbits, who still have their eyes shut and are furless, can stay safe. Rabbits eat soft plant parts, vegetables, and fruits which they can gather by living in places with lots of greens.
Rabbits live in burrows underground with their families, called family warrens. They cooperate and work together to make a small society where the dominant rabbit becomes the head. But they sure can be territorial. If any unknown rabbits try to enter their burrows, they won’t back off but fight viciously. An example of cuddly but dangerous!
Where Do Hares Live?
Hares live in various habitats. But their habitats are quite different from their distant cousins, rabbits. They usually make nests on open grounds in wooded regions and arid shrublands. Hares eat the more intricate parts of plants like twigs or wood branches available in drier habitats.
Hares are lone wolves. They like to stay isolated, which doesn’t bother or make them more susceptible to predators. They can protect themselves, so they rarely need cooperation from other hares. Even baby hares are born with fur and open eyes.
Unlike rabbits, hares only cooperate with another hare when it’s time to mate. They also aren’t fans of fighting, but you may see a female hare (Jill) throwing a couple of punches at the male hare(Jack) if she isn’t interested in mating.
Difference Between Bunnies and Rabbits
Great, you made it! We have finally come to our exciting story about bunnies and rabbits. We’ll make your reading worthwhile.
“Rabbit” is a common name for the 20 related species of the same Genus. The funny thing is that “bunny” is just another name for rabbits, but many people don’t know that. The word “bunny” isn’t an official name for rabbits, though. It’s actually a word that has come into existence because it’s cute.
You have obviously heard someone call a baby rabbit “bunny,” or you have done it yourself. That’s not quite correct. The term “bunny” emphasizes a rabbit’s cuteness or specifies its type or age. Baby rabbits aren’t called bunnies. Sorry to disappoint you. We were also disappointed when we learned it.
Well, to be honest, the name “bunny” does make sense if we think about it. A baby dog is called a puppy, so people mistaking bunny for baby rabbits isn’t a mistake at all! But, logically, it is a mistake.
|Baby rabbits are called kittens, just like baby cats.|
The word “bunny” has so much history that we don’t know which one to tell you. Do you want to know the fun or the serious history? Leave it! We will just tell them both. By the way, these are just theories because the actual origin is still a mystery.
- Did you know the original word for rabbit was “coney” in the 13th century? It was pronounced as “cunny.” The name “rabbit” only came into existence in the 14th century, later becoming famous in the early 1800s. At that time, cunny seemed vulgar to many. So we think they replaced it with a more cute word, “bunny.”
- In the 1600 and 1700s, Scottish and German people used “bunny” to describe a rabbit’s tail. This word originated from “bun,” originally meaning rabbit tail. The term “bunny” was also used for young girls or women. So, we think it came into practice from there.
Now you know rabbits and hares aren’t entirely similar to each other despite their cute resemblance. And you will also have no problem identifying them with their names now.
Moreover, next time you hear someone call a rabbit “bunny,” you can tell them some interesting facts and theories. That will be an excellent conversation catalyst. We hope you loved reading this article. Find more like these on our website. Have a great day!
I am Dana McQueen, a Veterinary Doctor who studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. For years, I have got common questions from friends and family about their pets. So, I decided to open up this website and answer all those frequently asked questions. Alongside, here I share my expert knowledge about pet care, pet health and the animal environment.