Is that furry thing an Easter bunny or an Easter hare? Are they the same thing? Or are they totally different? Are we just splitting hares? Help!

Believe it or not, rabbits and hares are completely different species, even though they look quite alike and are actually members of the same order of mammals (Lagomorpha). There are significant differences in physical appearance, behavior, and even lifestyles.

Rabbits and hares are different from the moment they are born. Baby rabbits — called kittens or bunnies — are born hairless and blind, totally dependent on their mothers. Baby hares — called leverets — are born with fur and sight, and they can move on their own within an hour of their birth.

Hares tend to be larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and longer ears with black markings. While rabbits’ fur stays the same color year-round, hares change color from brown or gray in the summer to white in the winter.

Rabbits and hares even tend to eat different foods. While rabbits prefer softer grasses and vegetables (like carrots!), hares like to eat harder bark and twigs.

Rabbits make their homes in burrows underground, while hares make nests above ground. Only the cottontail rabbit is known to make above-ground nests similar to those of hares.

Their different living habits make rabbits and hares respond to danger differently. Rabbits prefer to head underground to hide. Hares, on the other hand, use their longer, stronger hind legs to run away from danger.

Rabbits can be domesticated and kept as pets; hares stay wild. This reflects their behavior in the wild.

Rabbits tend to be social animals that live in groups. Hares spend most of their time by themselves, only pairing up occasionally to mate.

So now you know the difference between rabbits and hares! Share your knowledge and try out these old jokes on someone you know:

Q:        What’s the best way to catch a unique rabbit?

A:         Unique up on it!

Q:        How can you catch a rabbit in the woods?

A:         Hide behind a tree and make a sound like a carrot!


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