Hares and Jackrabbits: how to tell them apart
Hares and Jackrabbits are the common names for certain
small, furry mammals with long ears, short tails, eyes high
on the sides of their heads, long back feet with which they
often hop rather than run, and narrow slit-like nostrils
that they can close - an appearance similar to their close
relatives the rabbits. Scientifically they are in the order
Lagomorpha, family Leporidae, and genus Lepus.
For a long time hares and rabbits were classed by biologists
in the same family as the rodents, but now they have their
own family. This is because although Lagomorphs do have some
things in common with rodents, such as their always-growing
incisor teeth, they also have many differences, and the
current scientific belief is that Lagomorpha and Rodentia in
fact have no relationship.
Hares may be best known for the often quoted, "Mad as a
March hare." The phrase dates originally from the sixteenth
century, but most people likely remember it from the book
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The phrase originated
because of the behavior of hares during the mating period,
with males chasing each other and jumping about and females
"boxing" the males for whatever reason. The phrase "hair-
brained" comes from the same activity.
Some Differences between Lagomorphs and Rodents
* Rodents have two pairs of incisors in the front of their
mouths, Lagomorphs have four.
* Lagomorphs complete digestion of their fibrous food by
excreting a special type of feces and eating it. Rodents do
Some Differences between Hares and Rabbits
Rabbits and Hares look similar to each other and are
sometimes mistaken or misnamed for each other, but there are
some major differences. Examples of misnaming include the
Jackrabbit, which is actually a North American hare, and the
Belgian Hare, which is actually a breed of domestic rabbit.
Rabbits and hare have many things in common, such as being
prolific breeders with up to eight young in each litter born
about a month after breeding. They both reach puberty at
about six months and can live up to ten years. Rabbits and
hares also have very similar diets, eating plants, tree bark
flowers and vegetables. They are also both commonly prey for
everything from cats to humans, and they fur is popular for
clothing and decorations.
1. Rabbits usually live in colonies in large underground
tunnel systems called warrens. Rabbit colonies usually have
one dominant male who breeds all the does in that colony.
Hares, on the other hand, aren't all that social with other
hares. They live singly or in pairs in simple nests called
forms that they make in dense brush, and groups of hares
usually come together only at mating time.
2. The biggest difference between hares and rabbits is their
babies. Baby rabbits (called bunnies) are born hairless and
with their eyes shut, and stay for the first few weeks of
life in fur-lined nest rooms in the underground warrens.
Baby hares (called leverets), however, are, like guinea pig
babies, born with hair and their eyes open, ready to hop and
eat, and they never have to stay in a nest at all.
(The rabbit exception to the rule is the North American
Cottontail Rabbit, which usually builds grassy and furry nests on
the ground surface inside bushes and brambles, and doesn't
tend to collect in colonies at all. But the Cottontail
babies are still born blind and it is still
classed with the rabbits rather than the hares.)
3. Hares are usually larger than rabbits and have longer
ears that usually are trimmed with black. The skulls of
hares and rabbits are very different as well.
European Rabbits have been thoroughly domesticated for
many centuries, but no hare species has ever been
Jack Hare, central character in Kit Williams' treasure hunt book
Hare from Monster Rancher
Hartley Hare from Pipkins
Mad March Hare from Alice in Wonderland