Differences between Hares, Rabbits and Cottontails



Esther van Praag Ph.D.



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Common Hare

Lepus europaeus


Big and slender animal. It likes to run in open fields, where it can sometimes be observed.

The ears are long, longer than the head. Hares have a solitary life, except in spring when they start looking for a partner, in order to reproduce.



Makes a nest in a field, where offspring is born raised.

Newborn hares are furry, born with open eyes and can hear.

Gestation lasts 42 days

Offspring: 1 and 4

# of chromosomes : 46





Oryctolagus cuniculus


Smaller but muscular animal, who likes to jump and run. It digs burrow in bushy regions, preferably where the soil is soft and sandy.

The ears are shorter than the head. The rabbits lives in colonies



Digs a complex burrow, in order to hid from enemies and raise the offspring.

Newborn rabbits are naked, deaf and blind.

Gestation lasts 31 days

Offspring: 4 to 6.

# of chromosomes : 44




Sylvilagus sp.


Small animal with brownish-grey body, long ears and tufty tail that resembles a cotton ball, seen in open grass field, bordered with bushes.




Nest is a shallow depression in a field, with suitable cover

Newborn rabbits are naked, deaf and blind.

Gestation lasts 29-30 days

Offspring: 2 to 7

# of chromosomes : 42






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