Rabbits and hares vary in a few different ways. First, overall the jackrabbits, snowshoes and other hares a normally larger than any of the rabbit varieties. Secondly, they have longer ears with black tips.
Snowshoe hares, common in the western portions of the US, have large feet that help them to move in the snow. They also sport a “snow” white winter coat that changes to brown in the spring once the snow melts.
The black-tailed jackrabbit, most common of the US jackrabbits, weighs anywhere from three (3) to seven (7) pounds and can reach lengths of up to 21 inches. They have long ears with black tips and, as is common with all hares, rear legs that are longer than the front. The top side of the tail is black with an overall body color of grayish brown.
Unlike the jackrabbits described above, cottontail rabbits have shorter legs and are smaller overall. Of the cottontail rabbits, the Eastern Cottontail is the most prevalent. These rabbits often grow to lengths of 18 inches and don’t normally exceed six (6) pounds. The cottontail’s eyes are fairly large for its size. Their fur is normally brown with gray and black tips and they have a reddish orange patch on its neck and are white underneath from its throat to its tail. Shedding their fur twice per year leaves the animals with browner coat in the spring and grayer hue in the winter.
The largest of the cottontail rabbits in North America are the swamp rabbits found, more often than not, in the southeast and central United States. It does have smaller ears than other cottontails, but is longer and weighs more on average. The coloring is essentially the same save for a visible cinnamon colored ring around the eyes.
The Desert Cottontails (Audobon’s Rabbit) are about 15 inches long and 2 pounds on average. Their fur is grey with a hint of yellow.