Rabbit vs. Hare – What’s the Difference?

We all know that a rabbit and a hare are not the same animals. However, we also (hopefully) know that they are both leporids i.e. both the same type of animal. So, what is the difference between a hare and a rabbit? That is what we are going to take a look at on this page: Rabbit vs Hare.

rabbit vs hare
Rabbit Vs. Hare

Rabbit vs Hare: Size

Hares are substantially larger than rabbits. Yes, there are a few larger rabbit breeds, but you will find that in the majority of cases, the size of a hare will be far, far larger than that of a rabbit.

You will also find that hares have larger legs and ears than that of a rabbit. Again, this is not always going to be the case, but in the wild, you will easily be able to tell the difference between a hare and a rabbit.

Rabbit vs Hare: Speed

Hares can run a lot faster than rabbits. This is, in part, down to the size of their legs. Since hares tend to live in wider, open spaces, it is more likely that they will need to make a fast getaway from predators too.

This is where the speed comes into play. Rabbits are not really big runners. They can run, but they tend to hide from predators. You wouldn’t really catch a rabbit in a big, open field!

Where they Live

Rabbits will tend to live underground in a complex system of tunnels known as a ‘burrow‘. It is rare that a hare will live underground.

Instead, they will live behind rocks and hollowed out trees. They tend to be a lot more mobile as a result, darting from one place to another.

Hare in the wild

Rabbit vs Hare: The diet

Rabbits prefer to munch on grass and the like. Hares are big eaters of bark and twigs.

Yes, both hares and rabbits will have a little bit of overlap in their diet, but not as much as you may think! You may read more in our post What Do Wild Rabbits Eat?

Their Babies

The gestation period for a hare is a lot shorter than a rabbit. They tend to have fewer litters throughout the year too.

When a new hare is born, it is ready to run around within a couple of hours. When a rabbit is born, it may take a few weeks for it to open its eyes, let alone be ready to explore the world.

Therefore, rabbits are more tied to their mothers during the first few months of their life.

Social

Another big difference between a hare and a rabbit is their social skills.

Hares are not very social creatures at all. If they are out and about, then you are more likely to catch them on their own.

At most, they will be running around with a partner. On the other hand, rabbits are incredibly sociable. They forage for food in larger groups. They eat in larger groups.

If you have a pet rabbit, then you should often have two rabbits, because otherwise, they get lonely.

You will also find that rabbits fight a lot more among themselves than hares. Hares just tend to pair off when it is time to mate, but male rabbits fight for dominance in certain areas.

Fur

Both rabbits and hares will molt their fur throughout the year. Rabbits tend to keep the same color, but they change the thickness of the coat.

On the other hand, some hares are known to change the color of their coat. For example; in some snowy regions, the hare can change to a white color during the winter months.

This allows it to blend in with the scenery a little bit better. Basically, it is a defense from predators.

Domestication

This is another big difference between rabbits and hares. Rabbits have, of course, been domesticated as pets. There are currently no domestic hares.

Rabbit vs Hare: Lifespan

It is hard to determine the lifespan of rabbits and hares.

There are so many different breeds, and a lot of lifespans in the wild are cut short by predators. Generally speaking, you can expect a rabbit in the wild to live for about 6-years.

A hare in the wild will live for about 4-years, although there are some hares which have a shorter lifespan than this. Both of these animals could live for a lot longer in captivity.

In fact, in captivity, a hare could easily live until 12-years, with the rabbit capping off at about that amount too. The shorter lifespan for the hare in the wild is due to where they are living and how open they are to predators.