Is that a Rabbit or a Hare and What’s the Difference?

Reader Contribution by Elizabeth Gatto
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Rabbits and hares look much the same, and many people get the two species confused. It is rather fascinating because even though they look so completely similar, they are actually different species.  There are some tricks to learning their differences and identifying which creature you have encountered. 

You can easily tell them apart when you get a bit closer to the animal, with longer ears on the hare, and blacker tips on the coat of the hare too. Rabbits don’t tend to have this darker coloring, but the two creatures can be very similar in color aside from that.  So, your first item to check when you spot one is its ears. 

The second item to check is the hind quarters of the hopping animal.  Powerful hind legs and a cute, fluffy tail is what often give rabbits away.  The hare’s hind legs are longer than the rabbit’s hind legs.  Both rabbits and hares have coloring cleverly disguising them when they stay still in longer grass and weeds. They’re both very fast too, so they’ll bolt before you have a chance to get to them to have a closer look.

Unlike hares that live in above-ground nests, rabbits live mostly underground, in warrens. They are capable of digging their own burrows, but would much rather hijack another one they come across, or inhabit one that has previously been abandoned by another wild animal. Their burrows are cleverly engineered, and often very complex in nature, and, when left to their own devices for long enough, can be incredibly large.  And it’s a good thing too, because when a rabbit is born, it is hairless and blind.  Hares, on the other hand are able to move and have a full coat of fur so they are much more equipped for survival at the beginning.

Many rabbit species can be found across North America, such as Cottontail, brush, and Pygmy.  Hares consist of the snowshoe and white-tailed jackrabbit.  Both species have highly populated human territories, but they prefer large and open meadows, marshlands, woodlands, and even on and around mountainous regions. In fact, they’re quite adaptable creatures, and the fact that they spend a lot of their time underground helps them to make a home in many different habitats.

When the weather is nice and warm, rabbits have an abundance of food to eat, including wildflowers, weeds, clovers, and grasses.  They mostly feed on vegetation with a soft stem verses the hare that can sustain itself on twigs and shoots, and even bark.  In harsher times, they are more likely to eat anything green for survival, which could mean they are on your land.  If you have any issues with rabbits or hares, please contact a <a href=””>professional wildlife removal expert</a> for help.


Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, Specific Types of Rabbits & Hares

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Gatto

Elizabeth Gatto is a lover of wildlife and promoter of wildlife conservation. She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her online at Wildlife Animal Control. Read all of Elizabeth’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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