Today (September 23rd, 2023) is International Rabbit Day! Here in Alberta we have both wild hares and wild rabbits, but do you know the difference?
Many people aren't quite sure of the differences between rabbits and hares, so let's take a closer look. Both belong to the Lagomorph family, this family also includes the adorable mountain-dwelling pika. While all Lagomorphs share certain characteristics, such as huge hind feet, there are several details that help us tell rabbits from hares. Baby rabbits (called bunnies) are born hairless and blind, whereas baby hares (called leverets) are born with fur, can see, and are mobile within an hour of birth. Hares tend to be larger than rabbits, and have longer hind legs, longer ears and longer faces. Rabbits don't change colour with the seasons; hares change from brown in the summer to white in the winter. Rabbits tend to eat softer materials like grasses and flowers, while hares will readily dine on bark and twigs in addition to the softer things. Their escape plans are different too, when faced with danger, rabbits tend to freeze and/or run for cover, while hares usually try to run away and outmaneuver their pursuer. Finally, rabbits tend to be more sociable than hares and can often be found in the company of other rabbits; whereas hares tend to pair up only to mate or sometimes to play.
Species of hares in Alberta are the White-tailed Prairie hare and Snowshoe hare, while the species of rabbit is the Mountain Cottontail.
Happy International Rabbit Day and have fun playing "Hare or Rabbit?" next time you see a hopping animal cross your path.
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