Members of all genera except Lepus are usually referred to as rabbits, while members of Lepus (which accounts for almost half the species) are usually called hares. However the distinction between these two common names does not map completely into current taxonomy, since jackrabbits are members of Lepus, and members of the genera Pronolagus and Caprolagus are sometimes called hares.
Leporids range in size from the Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis), with a head and body length of 25–29 cm, and a weight of around 300 grams, to the European Hare (Lepus europaeus), which is 50–76 cm in head-body length, and weighs from 2.5 to 5 kilograms.
Both rabbits and hares are almost exclusively herbivorous (with exceptions among the members of Lepus), feeding primarily on grasses and herbs, although they also eat leaves, fruit, and seeds of various kinds. They pass food through their digestive systems twice, first expelling it as soft green feces, which they then re-ingest, eventually producing hard, dark fecal pellets. Like rodents, they have powerful front incisor teeth, but they also have a smaller second pair of incisors to either side of the main teeth in the upper jaw, and the structure is different from that of rodent incisors. Also like rodents, leporids lack any canine teeth, but they do have more cheek teeth than rodents do. The dental formula of most, though not all, leporids is:
They have adapted to a remarkable range of habitats, from desert to tundra, forests, mountains, and swampland. Rabbits generally dig permanent burrows for shelter, the exact form of which varies between species. In contrast, hares rarely dig shelters of any kind, and their bodies are more suited to fast running than to burrowing.
The gestation period in leporids varies from around 28 to 50 days, and is generally longer in the hares. This is in part because young hares, or leverets, are born fully developed, with fur and open eyes, while rabbit kits are naked and blind at birth, having the security of the burrow to protect them. Leporids can have several litters a year, which can cause their population to expand dramatically in a short period of time when resources are plentiful.
Seasonal Home Range and Diurnal Movements of Sylvilagus obscurus (Appalachian Cottontail) at Dolly Sods, West Virginia
Jan 01, 2007; Abstract - The purpose of the study was to estimate seasonal home ranges of Sylvilagus obscurus (Appalachian cottontail) within...