Hare and Rabbit: Differences, Greater Than the Length of an Ear

When rabbits move into the house, it is helpful to take a look at the lives of their “wild relatives” with regard to their husbandry and needs. Learn about familiar and lesser-known differences between the bunny and the rabbit. And find out why stable rabbits are not rabbits.

Hare or Rabbit – What Makes the Difference?

As a master lamp, the (field) hare has a permanent place in our culture, myths, and fairy tales. At Easter, he dominates the action as a cheerful egg messenger. The painter Albrecht Dürer erected an eternal monument to him, and people always associate the nature of the field dweller with verve and happiness. Next to him, his cousin enters the stage of popular pets: the rabbit. And while the two are not infrequently lumped together, they are more divided than is widely known. The Mümmelmänner have little in common: They both do not belong to the rodents, but to the “rabbit-like”. And both are distinct escape animals.

In terms of lifestyle and appearance, the hare and the rabbit have significant differences. Here is a brief overview:

  • Physique and appearance: The rabbit is slim and tall, with long ears, and long and muscular legs; Rabbits small and stocky, short ears, short legs;
  • Dimensions: rabbit 50 to 70 centimeters long and 4 to 7 kilograms; Rabbits 25 to 40 centimeters long and 1 to 3 kilograms in weight;
  • Color: gray-brown hare with black and white tail (called flower); Wild rabbits also gray-brown, in the neck rust-red to brown; Domestic rabbits in numerous color variations;
  • Habitat: hare fields, meadows, and forests; Rabbits dense terrain, small meadows or lower-lying structures;
  • Social behavior: hare loner (except mating season); Rabbits in sociable groups;
  • Nursery: hare fleeing the nest, hairy at birth with a pronounced sense of sight and hearing; Rabbit nestling, naked, blind, and helpless at birth.

By the way: Mother Nature put a stop to the biological cross between the two representatives. The rabbit only has 44 chromosomes. For the larger rabbit, the number is 48.

What’s on the Menu?

Both rabbits and rabbits, as herbivores, prefer what is available in their natural environment. Grasses, roots, and tubers as well as aromatic herbs land well ground in the stomach. Cereals and cabbage add to the list of preferred foods. In winter, both resort to bark, buds, and twigs.

However, while the rabbit, as a long-established inhabitant of inner cities, finds rich food in parks and facilities, what is available for the rabbit is becoming deserted in fields and fields. The reasons for this are the monoculture in agriculture and widespread weed destruction.

Info: The ornamental rabbit, a popular family member in many households, also loves variety in the food bowl.

Keeping rabbits is not allowed. They belong to protected animals and may not be bred or taken from nature. By the way: Even if the large “stable hare” is strongly reminiscent of the long-eared rabbit, depending on the breed – it is actually a rabbit.

Who Will Make the Leap Into Civilization?

Starting from Europe, both species conquered Australia and South America with humans. In New Zealand and parts of Oceania, too, the animals found the best conditions to become at home. Unlike the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) – or hare for short – the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has conquered the human heart and living space as a wild and domestic animal. Despite its adaptation to a heavily changed habitat, the hare is more and more distressed and is now one of the endangered species. Land consolidation and excessive agriculture are increasingly robbing him of the necessary protective spaces in small forests and bushes, which not least endangers the rearing of young animals.

On the other hand, the rabbit has spread in some inner cities to such an extent that it is viewed as a nuisance in some places. Underground tunnel systems in parks, cemeteries, and sun-warmed flood dams allow large rabbit families to submerge in the event of danger. They’re the offspring of two to seven animals that grow up protected after 30 days of gestation. Given the size of the family associations, the population is increasing rapidly. This, too, is an essential difference between the hare and the rabbit. Because the long-eared loner meets the partner only briefly for mating from January to October.

That Makes Life Difficult for Hare and Rabbits

When comparing the hare and the rabbit, the dangers for both are very similar. In addition to the modern world with fast-moving cars, environmental toxins such as fertilizers, one-sided cultivation of the fields, and hunters, birds of prey, ravens, and foxes chase them. While the rabbit heads for the next building entrance as quickly as possible, the rabbit seeks his salvation in a rapid escape at speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour. He confuses the pursuers with impressive changes of direction and immense jumping power of up to two meters in height.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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