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Rabbits and hares

Cottontail rabbitCottontail rabbit Rabbits and hares are rodent-like mammals with four pairs of front teeth, one pair behind the other. They belong to a family called the lagomorphs, meaning "hare-shaped", which includes rabbits, hares and pikas. All lagomorphs have long soft fur all over their bodies, even on their feet. They feed mainly on grasses, and also eat leaves, bark, seeds and roots. Hares are larger than rabbits and their young are born fully developed rather than naked and blind.

Avoiding predators

European hareEuropean hareLagomorphs are prey to many animals, so they have large ears to listen for danger and eyes on the sides of their heads, allowing them to see a wide area around them. If threatened, a rabbit may freeze, then warn other rabbits nearby by thumping on the ground. They may run or hop for their burrows, zigzagging across the ground to make capture as difficult as possible. To escape from predators, hares use their long, strong legs which can carry them at speeds of up to 75 km/h (45 mph).

Cottontail rabbits breed 7–8 times a year, producing a litter of up to 7 kittens each time. One pair of cottontails could potentially produce 350,000 descendants in just 5 years.

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