Hares are leoporids — which means they are members of family Leporidae, which also includes jackrabbits and rabbits — in the genus Lepus. Hares and jackrabbits are both members of the same genus, separated only by the fact that jackrabbits are North American, while hares make up the rest of the range. Both animals can be found throughout Europe and the Americas, as well as parts of Africa and Asia. Hares are rare in Australia, and like other terrestrial vertebrates, cannot be found in Antarctica. The animals and jackrabbits are also members of order Lagomorpha, which also includes pikas, but not rodents.
Hares are similar to their cousins the rabbits, but with several important differences. While rabbits dig burrows, these animals don't, living instead on the open ground. This is reflected in their stronger build, as running from predators is their only way to safety. They can approach speeds of 72 km/h (45 mph) for short bursts, significantly faster than most other animals. Their hind legs are much stronger than those of a rabbit. Another characteristic difference is the hare's ears, which are much larger and longer than a rabbit's, and generally larger than the hare's head. Using these, a hare can hear a predator coming from a mile away.
Unlike rabbits, hares are precocial, meaning their young are born fully furred and with open eyes. The life expectancy of wild hares is between 3 and 5 years, depending on the species and environmental conditions. They are usually grey-brown, except for some northern species that have a white coat during the winter, to blend in with the snow. They are the most successful lagomorph when it comes to colonizing the far north and mountainous habitats, as is reflected in animals like the Arctic Hare and Mountain Hare.
Instead of burrows, these animals live in grassy depressions called forms. They usually don't stray very far from the form, scavenging food like grass, leafy weeds, and low-lying herbaceous plants. In this respect their diet is similar to a rabbit's. They have been a part of human culture and knowledge for millennia, as is reflected in their role in various stories as tricksters, as well as an artistic motif of three hares with adjoining ears found across diverse cultures and times.