Are Rabbits and Bunnies the Same Thing?

Do you know the difference between a bunny, a rabbit, and a hare? Whether domestic rabbits or wild rabbits, read all about the background of these terms!

They both have long ears , strong hindquarters, a divided upper lip, and basically eat the same diet. Hares do tend to like hard foods like small twigs and bark, while rabbits prefer grasses, soft stems, and vegetables.

In terms of differences between the two, hares are physically larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs, larger feet, and longer ears with black markings, and rather than burrowing into the ground like rabbits, hares build simple nests in the grass. The nature of their respective nesting sites points to another major difference between rabbits and hares.

Why are rabbits called bunnies?

The word bunny itself could be a derivative of the Scottish word bun (rabbit, squirrel, tail of a hare) or from the French word bon (good). Gradually, the term bunny expanded to describe not just young female humans, but also young and/or small animals. Nowadays, it generally refers to a baby rabbit.

What is the difference between a bunny and a rabbit and a hare?

A bunny and a rabbit really are just two names for the same animal. A hare, on the other hand, is a completely different species. They may look similar, but hares are typically bigger than rabbits and have very different living and breeding habits.

Whats The Difference Between A Bunny, A Rabbit, And A Hare? Published April 14, 2017 Lets start with the two that have scientific names. Hares and rabbits are both in the family Leporidae, but theyre separate species. Both animals have long ears, powerful back legs, and a divided upper lip. But, hares are larger than rabbits. And, instead of creating burrows, hares make nests in the grass. The exposed nesting sites of hares hint at another big differencewhen theyre born. Hares are precocial, born with their eyes open and fur grown in, which means they dont require a lot of parental care. Rabbits, on the other hand, are born naked, blind, and helpless, which is why its smart for them to live in more secure dens underground. Where did the word rabbit come from? Until the 18th century, rabbits were called coneys, based on the French conil, shortened from the Latin cuniculus. Rabbit first referred to the young of coneys until eventually the word took over in popularity. Incidentally, thats also the origin of the name Coney Island (or Rabbit Island), the beachside amusement park in New York. It is one of the only references to coney thats still used in North America. Where did the word hare come from? The word hare is a very old one in the English language. Developing from the Old English hara, hare is recorded before 900. The deeper roots of hare are Germanic in origin; compare the Danish word hare. Hare is related to the Dutch haas and German Hase. The Old English hasu meaning gray, may be connected to hare. Where did the word bunny come from? So, what about bunnies, and specifically the Easter bunny? Bunny was originally (and sometimes still is) used as a term of endearment for a young girl. Over time, it started to mean a young and/or small animal, and now it usually means a rabbit. But, when German immigrants brought the traditions of (Kriss Kringle and) the Easter hare. The night before Easter, children would find a quiet corner in their house and make a nest out of clothing for the Easter hare to come lay eggs (the origin of the Easter basket). The word hare was dropped on its way across the Atlantic and the fuzzier, cuddlier word bunny was applied in its place. Why a hare and not, you know, a chicken to lay those Easter eggs? The intensely short gestation period and well-known reproductive speed of hares and rabbits have a long cultural association with spring and fertility. Hares are usually shy and isolated creatures, but their spring mating ritual makes them most conspicuous to humans in March and April. The phrase mad as a March hare hints at that mating season, when hares can be seen boxing each other as part of their unruly courtship ritual. Eggs are also a fertility symbol, and during the Lent fast, Catholics were traditionally not allowed to eat eggs, so they became part of the Easter feast. Theres a lot happening in those relationships, but it seems that the bunny-egg entanglement is here to stay. Don’t Get Mixed Up Again! Get Dictionary.com tips to keep words straight … right in your inbox. 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A rabbit, a bunny, and a hare walk into a bar, can you tell them apart? In everyday language, it may seem like these three words can be used interchangeably. But that doesnt mean that they actually refer to the same animal.

Many times people will use the word bunny thinking it means a young or baby rabbit. Rabbit is the actual and correct English word that is used to describe over 20 different related animal species.

In the 1600-1700s, bunny may have arisen from the word bun in the Scottish dialect, meaning hare or rabbit tail. Bun and bunny were used as terms of endearment for girls and young women at the time, and so may have also been applied to describe cute rabbits. Both rabbits and hares are in the family Laporidae and the order lagamorpha , so the two share a lot of similarities, but they represent different Genus and Species. Like hares, these rabbits will live and forage above ground and do not gain the protection that underground burrows provide.

They both have a relatively short gestation period and can have a large number of baby rabbits in a litter. Hares have a longer gestation period and their babies are born with fur and their eyes open. It will be a number of weeks before newborn rabbit babies are ready to go into the world and fend for themselves.

RabbitsHaresGestation 3142 Sight Eyes closed, blindEyes open Sound Ears closed, deafEars open Fur HairlessFurred Care Require many weeks of protection from adult rabbitsRequire little care and protection from adult rabbits Rabbits and hares have very similar diets . Hares will typically choose to eat rougher vegetation, such as roots, bark, twigs, and buds. The purpose of this isnt fully understood, but its believed that the skull helps the hare absorb the impact from the ground as they race around.

Since hares do not have the protection of underground burrows, they have had to learn how to run very fast to escape predators. Their ears also play an integral role in helping the rabbit to regulate their body temperature, preventing heat stroke and hypothermia.

Young rabbits may be called kitten or bunnies. Bunny versus Rabbit comparison chartBunnyRabbitKingdomAnimaliaAnimaliaPhylumChordataChordataGenus/GeneraPentalagus, Bunolagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, Brachylagus, Sylvilagus, Oryctolagus, PoelagusPentalagus, Bunolagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, Brachylagus, Sylvilagus, Oryctolagus, PoelagusFamilyLeporidae (in part)Leporidae (in part)OrderLagomorphaLagomorphaClassMammaliaMammalia Hare vs Rabbit Frog vs Toad Buffalo vs Bison Alligator vs Crocodile

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Bunny vs. Rabbit

“Rabbit” is the actual and correct English word that is used to describe over 20 different related animal species. These species include the European rabbit, which is the same species as domestic rabbits, as well as a large number of wild rabbits living in climates and cultures around the world.“Bunny,” on the other hand, is a colloquial term that has no scientific significance. In other words, “bunny” is just a cute word that people use to call a rabbit. Often times this word will be used when people want to emphasize the cuteness of a rabbit, so it is more often used in describing young rabbits or smaller dwarf breeds of rabbit. However, the word “bunny” can really be used to describe any type or age of rabbit.You might have believed that “bunny” was the word used for a baby rabbit. It sounds similar to the way puppy is used for a young dog, so that seems a logical conclusion. Baby rabbits actually have a different name though. Just like in cats, baby rabbits are called kittens!

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If “bunny” is not the name for baby rabbits, where did the term come from? It’s so different from the word “rabbit” that it’s hard to imagine how it could become the commonly known nickname.The exact origin of “bunny” is difficult to trace. There are two main theories I’ve uncovered for how “bunny” and “rabbit” have become associated with each other.

Rabbit vs. Hare

Rabbits and hares areThese two animals have many physical and behavioral differences that help us differentiate between the two different animals. Even though the two are very similar, you’ll be able to tell them apart.

Habitat

In general, hares will be found in more arid locations than rabbits. Hares will not burrow underground, instead they are surface dwellers. They will take shelter in shallow holes and bushes above ground.Rabbits do a lot of digging. They live in warrens, and burrow networks of tunnels underground. This generally provides the rabbits with more protection than their cousin hares. Cottontail rabbits, however, are an exception to this rule. Like hares, these rabbits will live and forage above ground and do not gain the protection that underground burrows provide.

Babies

Both rabbits and hares can be very prolific. They both have a relatively short gestation period and can have a large number of baby rabbits in a litter. That’s where their similarities end though.The most distinct difference between rabbits and hares are the differences in how the young are born and cared for. Hares have a longer gestation period and their babies are born with fur and their eyes open. These babies are quickly able to fend for themselves in the wild. This is a necessity for young hares because they don’t have the protection of a burrow that young rabbits have.Rabbits, on the other hand, have babies that are tiny and helpless. They are blind, deaf, and bald. It will be a number of weeks before newborn rabbit babies are ready to go into the world and fend for themselves.

Diet

Rabbits and hares have very similar diets. In a difficult situation with scarce or limited resources, the two animals would survive on whatever vegetation is available. However, when there are abundant resources available, rabbit and hare diets will differ just slightly.Hares will typically choose to eat rougher vegetation, such as roots, bark, twigs, and buds. Alternatively, rabbits will usually prefer to eat softer vegetation. They will love to eat vegetables, grass, and leafy greens with soft stems.

Anatomy

It may look like hares and rabbits are virtually the same in appearance. They both have those long iconic ears, and strong hind legs, but they do have some anatomical differences.Hares are typically much larger than rabbits. This includes their overall body size, but hares will also have larger ears and feet than a rabbit. The only exceptions are some domestic rabbits that have been bred to be very large. Wild rabbit species are generally very small.Hares also have a very unique skull. In addition to its distinct shape, hares have a kinetic skull that allows for movement between some of the bones that make up the skull. The purpose of this isn’t fully understood, but it’s believed that the skull helps the hare absorb the impact from the ground as they race around.

Hiders and runners

Rabbits and hares have different tendencies when they are faced with a predator. Hares will try to run. Rabbits will try to hide.Since hares do not have the protection of underground burrows, they have had to learn how to run very fast to escape predators. The fastest known species of hare, the Jackrabbit, can reach speeds of 45mph. Even fast rabbits will usually only reach speeds of 30mph.Rabbits are capable of running, for sure, but their main advantage is their ability to hide. Since rabbits have burrows they can escape to, their main defense when faced with predators is to find a way to get back to their burrow and hide, rather than long distance running.

Shedding

Both rabbits and hares have seasonal shedding patterns. They will grow a thick fur coat for winter and then a thinner coat for summer. Hare coats usually change significantly more in color than rabbit coats though.In winter rabbits will typically grow a coat that is only a little lighter or greyer than their vibrant summer coat. On the other hand, hares (especially those living in cold environments) usually turn white in the winter.

Group living

When it comes to daily life, rabbit and hare behavior is very different. Hares are very isolated animals and spend most of their time alone. They live above ground and fend for themselves. There is rarely any need to cooperate with other hares.Most of the time hares will not associate with each other unless it’s time to mate, at which point they will pair off. It’s also very rare to find two hares fighting. Most commonly it only occurs when a female hare is trying to let a male know she’s not interested.Rabbits, on the other hand, live in family warrens and can have a very complex social structure. They live together underground and form a little society that depends on their cooperation. There is usually a hierarchy of rabbits leading up to the most dominant rabbit in the warren.Rabbits are also very territorial. Any unrelated rabbit that tries to make their way into the warren’s territory will be viciously attacked.

Why are rabbit ears so long?

As you might expect, a rabbit’s long ears do a lot to improve their hearing. Their ears also play an integral role in helping the rabbit to regulate their body temperature, preventing heat stroke and hypothermia.