Are Jackrabbits Related to Kangaroos?


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Jackrabbits and kangaroos show some similarities to each other. Both of these animals are mammals as they belong to the class Mammalia of animals. Both are herbivorous grazers and have long ears. Another common behavior often shown by these is that they hop on two limbs.

Due to these similarities, people often confuse Jackrabbits with kangaroos. Let’s see whether they are related to each other or not.

What Are Jackrabbits?

Regardless of their names, jackrabbits are not rabbits; they are actually hares. The word “jackrabbits” is derived from “jackass-rabbit,” a term used to describe their long ears, which resemble those of a donkey. The book of western adventure “Roughing it” written by Mark Twain made this name famous.

Later, the name was abbreviated to jackrabbit. The long ears of a jackrabbit help him detect even the slightest sound in his surroundings. Nature has favored him this characteristic to protect himself from predators.

Although hares and rabbits belong to the same family (Leporidae), they are part of two different genera. The genus of rabbit is Oryctolagus, and that of the hare is Lepus. Jackrabbits are indeed different from rabbits. They have strong legs and are quite bigger than rabbits in size.

They can grow up to 24 inches (61 cm) and weigh almost 3 to 4 kgs. Their strong hind legs make them able to run at the speed of 40 m/h or 64 k/h. They can leap 10 to 20 feet. The black-tailed jackrabbits are herbivorous grazers, just like other rabbits and hares.

What Are Kangaroos?

Kangaroos belong to the taxonomic family Macropodidae, which means big feet in Latin. They feature large hind feet. They can stand on the two hind legs but use all four for moving around. Their tail also helps them in walking, and zoologists have started calling the tail an extra leg.

It’s also found that the sthenurine kangaroos that are now extinct walked upright using two legs only. These kangaroos and the closely related marsupials of the taxonomic family Macropodidae perished 15,000 years ago.

Are Kangaroos Related to Jackrabbits?

Kangaroos are different from jackrabbits in the following aspects:


Kangaroo lives in Australia and is found abundantly in grasslands. The neighboring countries having a climate similar to the Australian climate also have some breeds of kangaroos. While talking about hares, they are found in many countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.

Way of Locomotion

Both the kangaroos and hares use a hopping mechanism using their hind feet and legs. But the difference in their locomotion is that hares can move forward, backward, and sideways.

At the same time, the kangaroos can move only forwards. Therefore, a kangaroo cannot move backward and is often used as an example for motivation, to not to move backward and progress forward only.


Kangaroos have a longer lifespan and can live more than 8 years in the wild. Hare has a shorter life duration, accounting for 3 to 4 years in the wild. A hare living longer than this period is rare.


Researchers found that the large extinct kangaroos used to live in trees. But the present-day kangaroos are mostly found in grasslands. They need a wide-open space for hopping around, and grasslands are the best choice, though some are found in forests too. Red kangaroo can live in a desert with few shrubs around. On the other hand, hares like to live in an area where they can find both the grasses and woods.

They live in bushes and long grasses where they can hide easily from predators. Also, kangaroos have predators, such as humans, Tasmanian tigers, and wedge-tailed eagles. But they swim in order to escape their predators and survive. Kangaroos are good swimmers.

Eating Habits

Kangaroos rechew their food. They spit up the undigested portion of food, chew it again, and then digest it. At the same time, no such habit is noticed in hares so far.

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Can Jackrabbits Be Kept as Pets?

Jackrabbits are not social animals. Unlike their essentially smaller versions, rabbits, they don’t become friends easily and used to live in solitary. They have not been domesticated due to their unfriendly and introverted nature. If you want to have a small cute pet, consider pet rabbits instead of hares.

Can Kangaroos Be Kept as Pets?

Kangaroo is a fascinating and attractive animal that humans want to keep as a pet. But, unfortunately, kangaroos can’t be kept as pets. They can be loving and all but don’t forget that they are born with a wild instinct. They can’t adjust to our environment. They can even hurt you, bite you and kick you when scunnered.

Plus, kangaroos are highly social animals. They live as a herd of 50 to 60 kangaroos. This poor soul is probably gonna be lonely and can’t find his feet in your limited space. Kangaroo is a large animal and can grow up to 1-3 meters and weigh 18 to even 100 kgs approximately.

Given that most people don’t have enough space in their homes to sit with kangaroos properly,  they will surely cause some epic troubles for them.

Lastly, it may be legal to keep kangaroo as a pet in some states or might need a grant for that, but it is declared illegal to keep kangaroos as pets in many regions of the world, including some regions of America.

Are Kangaroos Related to Rabbits?

No, not at all, except that both are mammals. When we go through the terminologies for kangaroos, we know both have common names for males and females that are buck and doe, respectively. But kangaroos have two more referred names for both genders.

Some confuse rabbits with rodents, while others confuse them with marsupials. Let’s make it clear. Rodents include rats and related species, while marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies, and wallaroos, and some other pouched mammals. While rabbits are lagomorphs. Other differences include:

Body Size

Kangaroos are larger than rabbits in body size. The red kangaroo is the largest living marsupial on the Earth. Red kangaroo has been seen with a height of 6.6 feet and a length of 10 feet. Even the smallest kangaroos, rat kangaroos, have a length of 15 to 19 inches. At the same time, rabbits are just 8 to 10 inches in length.

Number of Species

Rabbits have approximately 29 species in 10 genera. They are found all over the world and are present in every continent except Antarctica. Almost 17 species of cottontail rabbits are found in North and South America alone. The Sumatran striped rabbit is known to be the rarest species of rabbit.

Kangaroos are less diverse as compared to rabbits. There is a total of four species of kangaroos which are :

  • Red kangaroo (Osphranter rufus)
  • Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)
  • Antilopine kangaroo (Osphranter antilopinus)
  • Western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus)


Coprophagous creatures are those that eat their fecal matter. Well, one can ask why animals eat their own poop, and it’s an interesting question. It is because it might have some undigested matter and a huge amount of nutrients as well.

Along with rabbits, many animals show this behavior, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, dogs, and cats. While it’s normal for other animals to eat their poop like a rabbit or a dog, a cat though doesn’t eat it normally.

Kangaroos are not coprophagous. They are herbivores and enjoy plant products only.

Feeding of Babies

Kangaroo keeps its joey, baby kangaroo in the pouch for more than 120 days after its born. Joey is protected in this pouch and gets the nutrition from its nipples. Giving immature birth to the young one followed by development in their pouch or some other way is one of the universal features of metatherians.

Rabbit species are different. They don’t have a pouch, but they do have nipples. They give birth to the young ones in a nest that the mother rabbit has covered with fur to keep the litter warm. She only returns once a day to feed her babies.

Who Are the Kangaroo’s Closest Relatives?

Some animals seem to be closely related to kangaroos, such as Tasmanian devils, possums, koalas, wombats, and kangaroo rats. Still, they don’t belong to the genus Macropus and possess characteristics that don’t match with the universal features of kangaroos at all;

for instance, Tasmanian devils are carnivores and have more incisor teeth than the kangaroos. Likewise, koalas, possums, and wombats differ due to their small sizes and other features.

Kangaroo’s closest relatives belong to the genus Macropus and are essentially smaller versions of it. They include:


Wallabies are closely related to kangaroos species and are found in Australia, with some species in New Zealand and Hawaii. They have the same names for their males and females as the kangaroos have.

Like kangaroos, wallabies are also herbivores, have strong hind limbs big feet, and have almost the same predators as the kangaroos. However, females do have a pouch just like a kangaroo pouch.


Wallaroos are also closely related to these animals. They have the same orders. They are marsupials majorly present in Australia.


Jackrabbits don’t belong to kangaroos. Both belong to different orders of mammals. Jackrabbits are not rabbits. They are actually hares. These are placental mammals. In contrast, kangaroos are marsupials or pouched mammals.

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