Hare vs. Rabbit: The Similarities and Differences Between These Animals

Hares and rabbits are under the same family but are different species. Physically, these two are different because hares are taller and have longer ears and tails than rabbits. They also have enormous hindquarters and a long fur coat.

Similarities of Rabbits and Hares


As mentioned, hares and rabbits come from the same family – Leporidae. Due to this, they may look physically similar at first, but you can quickly tell them apart upon taking a closer look.


There are a few similarities between rabbits and hares regarding their behavior. For example, both animals live solitary lives in caves, and both have four incisors in the front of their jaws which they use to gnaw on food. 

However, hares are faster than rabbits and can jump much higher. Apart from this, rabbits eat mostly grasses while hares eat mostly plants.

Differences Between Rabbits and Hares

Physical Features

When it comes to the appearance of hares and rabbits, many things separate them. Hares are similar to rabbits, but they have longer ears and legs. Hares tend to be taller than rabbits with longer ears which helps improve their hearing abilities when hunting prey underground or in dense vegetation.

The eyes of hares are typically smaller, and their ears are pointed at the tips- making them excellent hunters in tricky terrain. In contrast, rabbit eyes are more enormous with rounder pupils and have softer fur- making them better equipped for warmer climates.

Portrait of a wild rabbit sitting in a meadow

Apart from their different physical features, hares and rabbits also significantly differ in reproduction and physiology. Hares have longer mating seasons and longer copulation times than rabbits. Physiology-wise, hares are faster runners than rabbits, but rabbits can jump significantly higher.


Hares are the more active of the two and typically require more space; rabbits, on the other hand, are typically more laid-back but still curious creatures and can live in smaller spaces. 

Regarding sociability, rabbits enjoy being around other animals and are amiable creatures. On the other hand, hares are naturally solitary, and as such, they prefer to live alone, and their powerful hind legs enable them to run away from predators quickly.

They also have a different diet – hares eat mostly prey and plants, while rabbits eat mainly plant materials such as grasses, fruits, and vegetables.

This is due to their different tooth structure – hares have sharp teeth that can easily chew through rigid material, while rabbits’ teeth are more suited for crushing soft vegetation.

Speed, Agility, and Endurance

Hares are considerably faster than hares when covering a given distance in short time frames. They can also run long distances sustainably without getting tired, making them excellent at chasing down prey or escaping danger.

However, rabbits are naturally more agile and nimble, which makes them better at dodging obstacles and quickly maneuvering around corners. This ability allows them to escape predators and capture food easily from afar. 

In addition, rabbits are known for their stamina and ability to cover long distances without tiring out very quickly – even during harsh weather conditions or when running towards/from prey (due to their burrowing capabilities).


European brown hare

These two animals have different capabilities and preferences when choosing homes. Hares are fast runners and can cover long distances quickly. This means they are well-equipped to live in open habitats where they can run and play without worrying about getting lost. 

On the other hand, rabbits are better at navigating their surroundings quietly. They prefer to live in areas with plenty of vegetation and tight spaces to hide from predators easily. 

Hares also have better incisors that they can use to penetrate thorny vegetation like bark or cactus needles, making them suited for eating more challenging food items found in open areas.

In the summertime, hares cannot cool down as quickly as rabbits because their fur does not trap enough airflow beneath it (rabbits’ fur traps a lot of air). As such, hares often stay warm during the hotter months, while rabbits find refuge inside denser bushes or underground caves.

Color Change During Molts

Hares and rabbits are both mammals; as such, they undergo regular changes in their physical appearance. 

Hares molt (change) in the springtime, when their fur grows back, and they need to find food under challenging conditions. This is a period of great excitement marked by solid hormonal activity, which leads to hares being very active and fertile at this time.

On the other hand, rabbits molt (change) in the fall, when their fur falls off, to be replaced with new thick layers that protect them from the colder weather conditions. 

Rabbits change color between white/light brown during babyhood/infancy- a time of growth- and then develop a darker shade as they age.


Rabbits produce many offspring in a year, while hares produce fewer. In addition, hares feed their young quickly and then move on to other tasks such as mating or foraging for food (rabbits nurse their young).

Which Is Better for You, a Hare or a Rabbit?

It can take time to decide which pet to choose – a hare or a rabbit. Both pets have their benefits and drawbacks, and the decision ultimately comes down to what you need and want from your pet. 

For example, hares are a little faster, but rabbits can reproduce several times more than hares. Rabbits also have more extensive caves that can provide shelter in bad weather conditions.