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When is a hare not a hare? A: When…
Rabbits and Hares
The difference between rabbits and hares appears the moment they are born. Rabbits are born completely helpless, without fur and with closed eyes, whereas Hares are born with a full coat of hair, able to see and capable of hopping about a few minutes after birth.
Hares, born above the ground, can live on their own after one hour from birth! Rabbits are born in burrow nests and depend on their mothers for warmth and care. Rabbit burrows are a complex underground system that can be close to 10 feet deep.
Although rabbits and hares belong to the same Genus (group), they are separate species – hares being bigger with longer ears and legs than rabbits. Hares are faster runners, which makes sense since they live in open spaces like prairies, deserts and grasslands, and need to outrun their predators.
Hares tend to live alone or in loose groups. Rabbits, on the other hand, live in colonies with many other rabbits.
Rabbits like to munch on grasses and vegetables with leafy tops, while Hares enjoy hardier foods like twigs, bark, seeds and plant shoots.
More about Hares:
Why the long ears?
The Hares have an accurate sense of smell, allowing them to sense oncoming threats. Their extra-long ears also help them stay cool in the desert. The blood vessels in their ears enlarge when it gets hot, causing blood to flow to their ears and ridding their bodies of excess heat.
The long legs?
Hares have long, strong hind legs so that they can make a speedy getaway! They can run fast, reaching speeds over 40 mph, jumping over large distances easily. The length of their legs keeps their bodies far away from the hot ground.