At some point in the first half of the 20th century, scientists who classify animals (such as zoologists) started noticing certain morphological and behavioral differences between lagomorphs and rodents, and they began moving lagomorphs one by one out of the order Rodentia and into a new group of their own.
Rabbits are extremely cute, they’re small, fluffy, love cuddles and love to rip up your furniture. But does that class them as a rodent? What is the misconception behind rabbits being rodents? and why are they no longer rodents?
Are rabbits rodents? No. Rabbits & Hares are actually considered Lagomorphs rather than a rodents. Whilst they were considered rodents in the past, in the 20th century, zoologists reclassified rabbits and other lagomorphs into a separate family to their rodent cousins.
What is the difference between rodents and lagomorphs?
Species that belong to the order Lagomorpha (those are rabbits, hares, and pikas) show many anatomical and biochemical traits similar to species in the order Rodentia (the one that rodents belong to).
Zoologists used to classify lagomorphs in the order Rodentia as a matter of convenience, but it is now known that there are fundamental differences between these families.
Two key differences between rodents and lagomorphs are that rodents generally have two pairs of incisors (front teeth) and lagomorphs have four; and rodent’s molars have a wide, flat surface, whereas those of lagomorphs are tooth-combed.
Lagomorphs like rabbits and hares give birth to well developed, furred young whereas rodents tend to give birth to naked pups with little or no fur.
To sum it up:
- Rabbits are born blind and without fur, where as lagomorphs have fur and are not blind
- Lagomorphs have a pair of upper incisors that grow throughout their lives
- Rodents breed earlier in the year and females don’t allow any other males to have access to her young
- The average lifespan of a rodent is about two years, however the rabbit lives on average for about six to 10 years.
- Lagomorphs have half the chromosomes of rodents
What is the difference between a rabbit and a hare?
Hares tend to be larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and longer ears with black markings. While rabbits’ fur stays the same color year-round, hares change color from brown or gray in the summer to white in the winter.
Rabbits and hares look very similar and they’re both members of the same order of mammals (Lagomorpha). In fact, some animals such as jackrabbits, cottontails, or snowshoe hares resemble rabbits so much that they are mistakenly called rabbits by people unfamiliar with the distinctions. However, there is more to these two species than meets the eye.
- Hares will more often than not be alone as they are not as social as rabbits. Due to this, you will only see hares together to mate or safety.
- Hares cannot be tamed and should stay wild, this is due to their build and how they have been conditioned to a wild environment.
- Hares do not burrow for safety, instead they will live in an overground nest much like a cottontail rabbit.
- Hares have much stronger and longer hind legs, this allows them to run away from danger.
- Baby Hares also known as Leverets are born with fur and complete vision. They are usually capable of moving within the first hour of birth.