Bunny vs. Rabbit vs. Hare: Telling Them Apart

, Staff Writer
Updated May 17, 2022
Bunny vs Rabbit vs Hare with definitions
    Bunny vs Rabbit vs Hare with definitions
    Background: Tolchik / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

From Bugs to Roger to Peter, popular culture is full of famous rabbits. Or are they bunnies? Or are we just splitting hares? While bunny is a cuter name for rabbits, rabbits and hares are completely different species.

Rabbits vs. Hares: Similar Look, Different Animal

While they do share the same general look, rabbits and hares are different animals with surprisingly different behaviors.





Grasses and vegetables with leafy tops

Twigs, bark and plant shoots


Kittens; born blind and without fur

Leverets; born with fur and open eyes, can walk within hours of birth


Underground dens

Above-ground nests

Social habits

Live in colonies comprising up to 20 individuals

Largely solitary, sometimes live in pairs


Rabbit: Classic Cottontail

A rabbit, of the family Leporidae and order Lagomorpha, is a small mammal featuring big ears, strong hind legs and a puffy tail.

Rabbit referred to the babies of coneys, which is what the animal was initially called until about the 18th Century.

Bunny: A Rabbit By Any Other Name

Bunny is a cuter, cuddlier name for a rabbit. Biologically, there is no difference between a rabbit and a bunny.

The word originates from the Scottish word bun, a common pet name for squirrels before it applied to rabbits. Bun, and the variation bunny, were also terms of endearment for children.

Hare: A Different Species

Although hare and rabbit get used interchangeably, hares are a completely different species. They belong to the same order and family, so they share some of the same basic features, like long ears and powerful back legs. Hares are noticeably larger and have more stretched out features.


Some Hare-Brained Schemes

Even with the taxonomical difference, you can generally use bunny, rabbit and hare interchangeably in everyday talk. Science can’t seem to keep it straight either. Jackrabbits are technically hares, and the Belgian hare is technically a rabbit. Despite his name, Bugs Bunny himself has been referred to as a rabbit and a hare.