What make it a "rabbit"

Think of it this way:  What makes you a member of YOUR family? 
Look at your family tree and what makes your family special...
You are part of the human family and a family unit where you live.  
What do you have in common with your relatives who share your family name?  What makes you the same? Do you have similar looking noses?  Are you similar in height?  Eye color?  Hair color? 



"Hares and rabbits are in the same family, Leporidae, but they're "different species, like sheep and goats are different species."

---Steven Lukefahr, a geneticist at Texas A&M University


Rabbits have four top teeth, many back chewing teeth.    Two long ears.   Fur.  Long back powerful jumping legs.  Whiskers.  Five toes on front feet.  Four toes on back feet.  The spine bone extends to make a tail. Their eyes are on the side of the head (clue: herbivore)  Their teeth grow their entire lifetime and need to grind them so their mouths can close.  They eat their food twice (coprophagia).  They are diurnal (out at night and day). Gestation or how long the babies are inside the Momma Bunny averages to be 30 days.

Babies are called "kits" in a "litter."  They are weaned between 6-8 weeks.  Our breeds are fully mature and able to reproduce in approximately 5-6 months.  These heritage breeds weigh about 8-12 pounds each as adults.  Females are "does" and males are "bucks"



Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Spinal Cord)
Class:  Mammalia (Have fur; Nurse their babies)
Order: Lagomorpha (Four upper teeth, herbivore)
Family: Leporidae (Furry tails, long ears, long back legs)

  *  Bunolagus
  *  Caprolagus
  *  Lepus >> (Hare or Jackrabbit)
  *  Nesolagus 
  *  Oryctolagus   (Domestic rabbit)  >>Species >> Breed
  *  Pentolagus
  * Pronolagus
  * Romerolagus
  *  Sylvilagus >> (Cotton tail) >> Eastern Cotton Tail (wild rabbit)


For comparison, here is the same for a HUMAN


Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Spinal Cord)
Class: Mammalia (Have fur; Nurse their babies)
Order: Primate
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo

Species: Homo Sapiens

All rabbits are lagomorphs and are the same family (Leporidae), same class (mammal) same phylum (chordata:  all have spinal cords) and same kingdom (animal).   If you are from the Genus of Lepus, then you are a hare or jackrabbit.  Every other genus is commonly called a "rabbit" with the cute name of "bunny" or "bunny rabbit"


The genotype is different as you can see from the family tree, but how do they look different (phenotype)?


                                        RABBIT                    HARE

BABY NAME                 Kit                             Leveret

EYES AT BIRTH            Closed                      Open

FUR AT BIRTH              Bald                          Has fur



They are both mammals, but guinea pigs are in the rodent order and are in the cavie family while rabbits are in the lagomorph order and are in the leporidae family.  The Lakota (Native Americans) have a phrase  "Mitakuye Owasin" which means "we are all related." 

So depending on your view of the world, yes rabbits and guinea pigs ARE related to each other, but they are distant, distant cousins. 
Yet they are more similar than a rabbit and a bear... and definitely more similar than a rabbit and a fish...  and definitely a LOT more similar than a rabbit and an amoeba. 

It's always best to draw a family tree...


1) Rabbits are in the Lagamorph Order. 
Rodents are in the Rodentia Order.
2) Rabbits have four upper powerful incisor teeth. 
Rodents have two upper incisor teeth.
3) Rabbits are herbivores (eat plants)
Many rodents are omnivores (eat plants and meat)
4) Rabbits have four toes on back feet and five on front.  Rodents have five and five.

Examples of rodents:  mice, rats, squirrels, beavers, marmots, vole, prairie dogs



Lepus victoriae
African Savanna Hare

Lepus othus
Alaskan Hare

Lepus alleni
Antelope Jackrabbit

Lepus arcticus
Arctic Hare

Lepus insularis
Black Jackrabbit

Lepus californicus
Balck-tailed Jackrabbit

Lepus castroviejoi
Broom Hare

Lepus pequensis
Burmese Hare

Lepus capensis
Brown Hare

Lepus sinensis
Chinese Hare

Lepus corsicanus
Corsican Hare

Lepus starcki
Ethiopean Hare

Lepus europaeus
Ethiopean Highland Hare

Lepus granatensis
Granada Hare

Lepus hainanus
Hainan Hare

Lepus nigricollis
Indian Hare

Lepus bracyurus
Japanese Hare

Lepus coreanus
Korean Hare

Lepus timidus
Mountain Hare

Lepus   saxatilis
Scrub Hare

Lepus flavigularis
Tehuantepc Jackrabbit

Lepus tolai
Tolai Hare

Lepus callotis
White-sided Jackrabbit

Lepus townsendii
White-tailed Jackrabbit

Lepsus oiostlus
Woolly Hare

Lepus oiostolus
Wooly Hare

Lepus varkandensis
Yarkland Hare

Lepus comus
Yunnan Hare

Lepus americanus
Snowshoe Hare