Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Jack Rabbit Vs. Cotton Tail

| Updated September 26, 2017

Jackrabbits aren't really rabbits, and cottontails don't have tails of cotton. The former is a hare; the latter's tail is a white ball of fur. Though different, they both live in nests above ground.


Jackrabbits are hares, leoprids belonging to the genus Lepus. They are larger than rabbits and were named for their ears which caused people to call them "jackass rabbits," but the name was shortened over time.


Cottontail rabbits are leoprids of the species Lepus sylvaticus. Their name comes from their fluffy white tail which resembles a ball of cotton. There are several species, but the eastern cottontail is the most common.

Jackrabbit Range

There are five species of jackrabbits, all found in central and western North America. Black-tailed jackrabbits are common in American deserts, scrublands and open spaces. White-tailed jackrabbits are found in North America's plains, farmlands and wooded areas.

Cottontail Habitat

The cottontail is found from Canada to South America and, in the United States, from the East Coast to the Great Plains. They inhabit the edges of open spaces, such as fields, meadows and farms, but can adapt to other habitats such as where humans live.

Bearing Young

When born, jackrabbits are fully furred with open eyes. They can fend for themselves soon after birth and are called precocial. On the other hand, cottontail young are blind and hairless when born and are called altricial. Female hares and rabbits can have multiple litters a year, each with up to six young.


Hares and rabbits, due to their powerful hind legs, are speedsters. The hare can reach speeds up to 40 miles an hour while the smaller rabbit can attain speeds up to 20 miles per hour. They both run in zig-zag patterns to confuse their predators.