Tuesday 29 March 2016

What's the Difference Between Rabbits and Hares?

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | March 25, 2016 03:58pm ET

If a rabbit or a hare were to hop across your path this Easter, would you be able to tell the difference?

Both are furry and capable of pulverizing a vegetable garden, but they have several key differences. Here are some tips that will transform you into a bunny expert come Easter time.

Rabbits and hares are closely related, said Mary Dawson, curator emeritus of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. They belong to the same order (Lagomorpha) and family (Leporidae), but they have separate genuses. 

The 30 or so species of hares fit into just one genus (Lepus), whereas rabbits branch out into 10 genuses, including the North American genus Sylvilagus, more commonly known as cottontails. There are also about 30 species of rabbits, including the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which is often bred as a pet.

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