Rabbits and hares are often confused. The hare is larger and heavier than the rabbit and has longer ears. The hare has longer hind legs and larger hind feet. It can out jump any rabbit and does not tire as quickly. Many hares turn white in the winter. Rabbits keep the same color coat year-round.
The main wild rabbit in North America is the cottontail. It grows from 14 to 18 inches and weighs from 2 to 3 pounds. They are brown with tan sides and white under parts.
Another type of rabbit is the jackrabbit.The jackrabbit is the largest of the American hares. They are more than 2 feet long and theri ears are from 5 to 6 inches long. Jackrabbits weigh 4 to 6 pounds.
Rabbits prefer regions where the soil is loose and dry and where there is brushwood for shelter. They may live in brushy woods and gardens of eastern North America, on the western plains and deserts, on mountains, and even in the Arctic snows. European rabbits live alone on about an acre of land. European rabbits live in groups in a burrow. The cottontail r abbit lives in the Western Hemisphere.
Rabbits eat at night. During the day they stay in their nests.They eat green growing things. In the winter rabbits eat bark of trees and shrubs, buds, and berries.
The female hare is called a doe. The doe has 2 to 3 litters a year. Each litter has 4 to 6 babies. Baby hares are born in a flattened area in the grass below a branch or under the brush. When they are born their eyes are open and they have much fur on their bodies. After a few days a baby hare is able to take care of itself.
The rabbit mother builds a nest in the grass or even in an abandoned woodchuck hole. The young are born blind, naked, and helpless. The babies drink their mother’s milk. The mother hides the babies when she leaves the nest. After about one week the babies open their eyes. They do not leave the nest for 10 to 12 days. After three weeks the babies can take care of themselves. The mother has many litters from early spring to late fall. Each litter has 4 to 6 babies. Rabbits live about 10 years.
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