There are many similarities between rabbits and hares. Both are small mammals with long ears. Also, they both are herbivores and live in the wild. While hares are larger than rabbits with longer hind legs and longer ears, both these animals exhibit similar mating habits, which leaves us wondering if a rabbit could mate with a hare.
The answer is no. Hares and rabbits are two different species; therefore, you cannot breed them. Although they are both members of the family Leporidae, they are genetically incompatible.
There are a few subtle differences between hares and rabbits other than genetics that makes mating between them impossible.
In this article, we are going to explore those differences and come to a conclusion as to why it’s not practical to breed a hare and a rabbit.
So, let’s get started.
Differences Between Rabbits and Hares
Though they may look quite similar at first glance, rabbits and hares are actually quite different creatures. For one, rabbits are typically smaller than hares. Hares also typically have longer hind legs and ears than rabbits.
In addition, while rabbits live in underground burrows, hares build simple nests above ground. Finally, rabbits are mainly herbivores, while arctic hares also eat meat occasionally, including fish.
Here are a few differences between the two animals that make breeding between them impossible.
Rabbits are smaller than hares
One key difference between rabbits and hares is their size. Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer legs and bigger feet. They also have longer ears and differently shaped heads.
One reason that rabbits are smaller than hares is because of their fur. Rabbits have much softer and thinner fur than hares. This is because they are not as well-adapted to cold weather as hares are. This thinner fur also contributes to their smaller overall size.
Rabbits are bossy
When it comes to behavior, most rabbits are observed to be bossy and dominating creatures. While they make good human companions, they still don’t like to be cuddled too much. They would consider the entire area where they live their territory and won’t let any other animal enter it.
Hares, however, are skittish and do not mix up with other creatures, including humans. Because of this reason, they do not make good pets either.
Hares socialize less
Hares are not sociable animals. This is evident in their behavior and how they interact with other animals. Hares are solitary creatures that prefer to live alone. They are also very shy and timid, which makes them difficult to approach.
When they are around other animals, they tend to keep to themselves and avoid interaction. This is because hares are not social animals and do not form bonds with other creatures.
In such a scenario, it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to see a hare and a rabbit developing a bond.
Rabbits live underground
One key difference between hares and rabbits is the way they live. Hares are often seen living alone or in pairs. On the other hand, rabbits like to form groups and territories, and they also dig burrows underground and live there. Hares tend to live in ground nests.
Hares are also capable of living in various habitats and have many different ways of procuring food and water.
They have different breeding cycles
Rabbits and hares have different breeding cycles. Rabbits are induced ovulators, meaning they only ovulate when bred. Hares, on the other hand, are spontaneous ovulators, meaning that they ovulate on their own cycle regardless of whether or not they are bred.
When it comes to rabbits, a doe (female) will typically live with a buck (male) and their offspring until the offspring are old enough to mate and produce their own offspring. Does can have several litters of offspring per year, so their breeding cycle is relatively short.
Can Rabbits and Hares Breed?
No. These animals are not the same species or belong to the same genera; hence, there is no chance of mating between them. Breeding rabbits with hares would be an attempt to disturb the ecosystem and may have dire consequences.
However, it’s possible to crossbreed different rabbit species and produce new breeds. For example, the Holland Lop is a crossbreed.
It’s important to note that not all rabbit species can crossbreed successfully. In addition, the offspring of a crossbred pair may not be fertile. For those interested in crossbreeding rabbits, it is best to consult with a veterinarian or experienced breeder to learn more about which rabbit species can be safely crossbred.
Additionally, rabbits do not always develop a bond with other rabbits. You have to be very careful in introducing them to one another for the purpose of mating. They might take a few days before getting comfortable in each other’s presence. There is also a chance of complete rejection, so you must research to ensure successful mating.
This includes finding a compatible pair of rabbits, preparing a safe and comfortable environment for them to mate in, and monitoring the rabbits during and after mating.
What Might Happen If a Hare and a Rabbit Are Bred Together?
Although genetically impossible, if you were to breed a hare with a rabbit, a few things could happen. Let’s take a look at these possibilities.
For one, the offspring might be sterile and unable to produce their own young. Additionally, the offspring might inherit some of the physical characteristics of both the hare and the rabbit, resulting in a hybrid creature that is somewhere in between the two parent animals in terms of size, shape, and fur type.
Offspring born due to crossbreeding between a rabbit and a hare may not survive at all. As we know, baby hares are capable of running and jumping within a few hours of being born. Rabbits, on the other hand, are very fragile and weak when they are born. In the case of crossbreeding, if the mother is a hare, she might leave her little one too soon, knowing that it will survive on its own.
Finally, the offspring might inherit the behavioral characteristics of both the hare and the rabbit, resulting in a skittish animal that is prone to running away but also has a strong desire to burrow and build nests.
What are a Belgian Hare and a Jackrabbit?
A Belgian Hare is essentially a rabbit. You may think it’s a crossbreed between a hare and a rabbit, but it’s not. Similarly, a Jackrabbit is a hare and not a rabbit. The names are just misnomers and probably chosen because of the size or living habits of the animal.
A Belgian Hare is a type of domestic rabbit that was originally bred in Belgium. They are similar in appearance to wild rabbits but are usually larger and have longer ears. Belgian Hares were once popular pets but are now relatively rare.
Jackrabbits got their name from the shape of their ears. There are white-tailed and black-tailed jackrabbits found in the world.
Although belonging to the same family, rabbits and hares are two different species. Rabbits are typically smaller than hares, and their tails are shorter in proportion to their bodies. Rabbits also live in underground burrows, while hares live in above-ground nests. Their breeding cycles are also different.
While rabbits and hares may appear to be the same, they are two different animals with different living and reproductive needs. It is not possible to breed these two animals together because they are genetically incompatible. However, they may develop a bond if you make them live together. But this bond cannot still be compared to mating.