Rabbits Versus Hares — Some Differences

Side-by-side comparison of a cottontail (left) and hare (right).

Side-by-side comparison of a cottontail (left) and hare (right).

This is Passport to Texas

A cottontail is a rabbit and a jackrabbit is a hare. And although they’re in the same family, they’re different species. Hares have longer ears and back legs than rabbits—and the differences don’t stop there.

One of the differences between hares and rabbits are the types of nests they build. And this is determined by the condition of their young at birth.

Heidi Rao is a hunter education specialist. She says true rabbits are born hairless, blind, and dependent on their mother’s care.

A young jackrabbit is actually born with his eyes open, and his body fully furred, and with the ability to hop around only moments after birth. It doesn’t need an elaborate nest to be reared.

Hares are less social, and they give birth and raise their young in above ground nests. Rabbits live in groups, and give birth and raise their young in underground burrows or warrens. There is one exception. The cottontail.

The eastern cottontail’s nest is a saucer-like depression three or four inches deep and about eight inches across. And they line it with mouthfuls of soft, dead grass mixes, and hair from the mother’s body.

Hares are more skittish than rabbits and do not make good pets. But they both are good eating. Hunting rabbits and hares…that’s tomorrow.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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