Rabbits and Hares

Family Leporidae

Mammalian Hybrids



arctic hare Arctic hare
Lepus arcticus

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Lepus americanus [Snowshoe Hare]
× Oryctolagus cuniculus [European Rabbit] CHR. The ranges of these animals were originally disjunct, but O. cuniculus is now feral in the range of L. americanus. High rates of fertilization occur in rabbits inseminated with hare semen, but less than 10% of hare oocytes are fertilized with rabbit semen. The fertilized ova apparently all degenerate. Allen and Short 1997 (p. 38); Chang 1965a; Chang and Hancock 1967; Chang et al. 1964, 1969.
× Lepus europaeus [European Hare] (??? To complete this entry, see review in Chang and Hancock 1967.)

Lepus callotis [White-sided Jackrabbit]
× Lepus gaillardi [Gaillard's Jackrabbit] NHR. After finding that these rabbits hybridize in a state of nature, Anderson and Gaunt (1962) lumped them. In their own words (Anderson and Gaunt 1962, p. 1), "The acquisition of a number of white-sided jack rabbits from Chihuahua, Durango, and Jalisco by the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History in the last decade makes a reevaluation of the relationships of these species possible. The study of these and other specimens reveals intergradation between Lepus gaillardi Mearns, 1896, and Lepus callotis Wagler, 1830, which we therefore regard as conspecific." They are still generally treated as conspecific today (2013)

Lepus capensis [Cape Hare]
× Lepus sinensis [Chinese Hare] ENHR. Contact occurs in southern China, where L. capensis has been introduced. Liu et al. 2011.
× Lepus oiostolus [Woolly Hare] NHR. Liu et al. 2011.
× Lepus timidus (♀) [Mountain Hare] NHR. Liu et al. 2011.
× Lepus yarkandensis (♀) [Yarkand Hare] NHR(China). Liu et al. 2011.

Lepus castroviejoi [Broom Hare]
× Lepus europaeus (♀) [European Hare] ENHR. Most L. europaeus-like individuals in the contact zone in northwestern Spain have L. timidus mtDNA; see Lepus europaeus × L. granatensis and L. europaeus × L. timidus. Melo Ferreiraet al. 2005 (pp. 2461 and 2463; see also: Fig. 1).

Lepus europaeus [European Hare]
See also: Lepus americanus; L. castroviejoi.
× Bos taurus [European Domestic Cattle] See the separate article "Rabbit × Cow."
+ Canis familiaris [Domestic dog] Mating is reported, but no actual hybrids. Peter Simon Pallas, the 18th century naturalist, says a tame hare kept with dogs mated with a bitch. This report is mentioned merely to document the fact that very different animals are sometimes willing to mate, even in certain cases where the production of hybrids would seem unlikely. Pallas (1767-1780, fascicule IX, p. 36).
× Homo sapiens [Human] The following report appears in the April 17, 1897, issue of the medical journal The Lancet (p. 1128): "From Leghorn comes the announcement on the 8th inst. [i.e., April 8, 1897] of the birth of a monster, the mother being a poor water-carrier of the city, and her offspring resembling from the head to the umbilicus a hare, and from the umbilicus to the lower extremities a normally developed infant. Dr. Botlari, who assisted at the birth, reports that the monster is alive; in place of eyes it has two cavities [the incidence of anophthalmia (congenital absence of eyes) is elevated in hybrids produced from distant crosses], its mouth and nose are similar to those of a hare, and it rejects by the one what is sent into the other and vice versa. The mother volunteered the statement that during pregnancy in a house where she was carrying water she saw a hare cut up in quarters on the kitchen table, and was strongly impressed by the sight. Her health is good; while as to her offspring, in the more than probable event of its dying, it will be added to the local museum in illustration of the lusus naturae which figure in Saint Hilaire's 'Teratologie,' as due to the impressionability of the pregnant." Galileo’s friend, the Italian scientist Fortunio Liceti (1577-1657) mentions (Liceti 1665, p. 186) a hare-human hybrid supposedly born in the year 1440: “At Cracow, in a suburban village called Nigrae, a woman gave birth to a male child with the ears and neck of a hare. It was extracted alive breathing through a wide-open mouth. A great intestine filled its entire abdomen, but it was otherwise normal.” Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original Latin: “Cracouiae in suburbana villa, cui Nigrae nomen est, mulier puellum edidit collo & auribus leporinis : diducto rictu spirantem : uno grandiore intestino totum ventrem occupante : ceteris membris humanam figuram habentibus.” And in his book Natural Magic (Book II, Chapter XIX), the Renaissance scholar Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615) mentions the widespread former belief that cleft lip (often called hare lip) in children could result from a pregnant woman looking upon a hare.
× Lepus granatensis (♂) [Iberian Hare] ENHI(northeastern Spain). Extensive hybridization can be inferred from the fact that many hares sampled from the vicinity of the contact zone are morphologically similar to L. granatensis, but have L. timidus mtDNA (most L. europaeus individuals in northern Spain have L. timidus mtDNA). Since L. castroviejoi has a very limited range within the contact zone between L. europaeus and L. granatensis, the possibility should be considered that it may be derived from hybridization of this type. See: L. europaeus × L. timidus. Melo Ferreiraet al. 2005.
× Lepus timidus (almost exclusively ♀) [Mountain Hare] CAENHR(n Europe). HPF. These hybrids are easily obtained in captivity. In Sweden, natural hybrids have been reported from the time of the first introduction of L. europaeus into that country. Thulin et al. (2006) found that in Sweden almost all individuals of mixed descent are later-generation hybrids. Gustavsson and Sundt say L. europaeus males readily produced hybrids when caged with L. timidus females, but that artificial insemination was required to produce the reciprocal cross. Extensive penetration of L. timidus mtDNA haplotypes into L. europaeus populations shows that the directionality of natural hybrid matings is similarly biased. In fact, the presence of L. timidus mtDNA in 93% of hares identified as L. europaeus in northeastern Spain (Melo Ferreiraet al. 2005), far from the range of the northern L. timidus, suggests that hybridization has been so extensive that nearly all naturally occurring T. europaeus individuals have been affected by hybridization. The tail of F1 hybrids is intermediate in length and the tail spot, not so dark as in L. europaeus. Ackermann (1898, p. 75) says a hybrid shot by a hunter had white haunches, but was otherwise brown. Others showed the reverse pattern, with the fore-body white and the hindquarters brown. Alves et al. 2003; Angerbjörn and Flux 1995; Baldenstein 1893; Brehm et al. 1876-1879 (vol. 2, p. 475); Fraguglione 1966; Grigorjev 1956; Gustavsson 1971; Gustavsson and Sundt 1965; Harting 1897; Imai et al. 1982; Lönnberg 1905; Lus 1938; Meyer-Holzapfel 1950b; Middendorf 1851; Notini 1941; Ohno et al. 1965; Schneider 1946; Schröder et al. 1987; Serebrovskii 1935; Suchentrunk et al. 1999; Thulin and Tegelström 1997. Thulin et al. 1997, 2003, 2006.
× Oryctolagus cuniculus [European Rabbit] Supposed hybrids of this type are known as a "leporides," and a breed known as the "Belgian Hare" is repeatedly alleged on the Internet as a "hybrid between Old World rabbit and hare." However, no valid primary report of this cross seems to exist (though the literature discussing this topic is extensive). Castle (1925) describes assiduous efforts to produce this cross by artificial insemination that ended in failure.
× Ovis aries [Domestic sheep] See the separate article "Domestic Sheep × European Hare.
× Petrogale sp. [Rock-wallaby] The following report appeared on page 6 of the November 13, 1926, issue of Casino and Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser, a newspaper published in Kyogle, New South Wales, Australia (source): “FREAK ANIMAL. Mr. Jack Kuhn had a freak animal on view at Manilla [New South Wales] recently. This hybrid was practically devoid of hair, and had a tail about four inches long, which was also practically hairless. The head resembled that of a rock wallaby, and the animal was about the size of a three-quarter grown rabbit. On its hindquarters were little tufts of hair, very much like that of a hare, and its feet were also like that of the same animal. This extraordinary creature was caught in a rabbit trap.” L. europaeus is introduced in Australia.

Lepus gaillardi [Gaillard's Jackrabbit] See: Lepus callotis.

Lepus granatensis [Iberian Hare] See: Lepus europaeus.

Lepus mandshuricus [Manchurian Hare]
× Lepus sinensis (♀) [Chinese Hare] ENHR(China). Liu et al. 2011.
× Lepus timidus (♀) [Mountain Hare] ENHR(ne China). Liu et al. 2011.

Lepus oiostolus [Woolly Hare] See: Lepus capensis.

Lepus sinensis [Chinese Hare]
See also: Lepus capensis; L. mandshuricus
× Lepus timidus [Mountain Hare] ENHR(ne China). Liu et al. 2011.

Lepus timidus [Mountain Hare] See: Lepus capensis; L. europaeus; L. mandshuricus; L. sinensis.

Lepus yarkandensis [Yarkand Hare] See: Lepus capensis.

Oryctolagus cuniculus [European Rabbit]
See also: Lepus americanus; L. europaeus.
× Bos taurus [European Domestic Cattle] See the separate article "Rabbit × Cow."
+ Canis familiaris [Domestic dog] See also the separate article "Dog-rabbit Hybrids."
× Cavia porcellus [Domestic Guinea-Pig] See the separate article "Guinea Pig × European Rabbit."
× Columba livia [Domestic Pigeon] See the separate article "Domestic Rabbit × Domestic Pigeon."
× Felis catus [Domestic Cat] See the separate article "Domestic Cat × Rabbit."
× Gallus gallus [Domestic Fowl] See the separate article "Chicken-rabbit Hybrids?."
× Homo sapiens [Human] See the separate article "Human × Rabbit.
× Rattus rattus [Black Rat] Rat sperm successfully fertilized rabbit eggs in vitro. Krasovskaja 1935.
× Strigiformes [Owl] See the separate article "An Owl-rabbit Hybrid?"
× Sylvilagus floridanus [Eastern Cottontail] See review in Chang and Hancock 1967.???
× Sylvilagus transitionalis [New England Cottontail] See review in Chang and Hancock 1967.???
+ Tinca tinca [Tench] This cross, between a mammal and a fish, has not been reported, but the nineteenth century writer Francis Trevelyan Buckland (1882, p. 33) did joke about it: "I have heard the following story of the great Duke of Wellington being completely sold by a showman. A man had advertised an exhibition of a hybrid creature between a tench and a hare. When the Duke went to examine it, the exhibitor told him he was very sorry he could not show the specimen itself, as it had gone to Court to be exhibited to the king; but, if it was any satisfaction, he would show him both the father and the mother stuffed and in glass cases!"

Sylvilagus aquaticus [Swamp Rabbit]
× Sylvilagus palustris [Marsh Rabbit] Parapatric contact zone (southeastern U.S.). No hybrids as yet reported. Hall and Kelson 1959 (Map 184).

Note: In southeastern Arizona, a hybrid zone exists between two populations (arizonae, minor) treated as races of S. audubonii. There is a hybrid zone, too, in New Mexico between minor and another population (warreni) treated as a race of S. audubonii. Finally, there is a hybrid zone between arizonae and a fourth such population (goldmani) in southern Sonora (Mexico). Hoffmeister 1986 (pp. 137-138 and Map 5.35); Hoffmeister and Lee 1963.

Note: Hoffmeister and Lee (1963, p. 508) say that "in the Southwest, it is sometimes difficult to readily distinguish specimens of the 3 species of cottontails: S audubonii, S. floridanus, and S. nuttallii," a statement which suggests the existence of considerable hybridization.

Sylvilagus audubonii [Desert Cottontail]
× Sylvilagus floridanus [Eastern Cottontail] NHR(New Mexico). CON: southwestern U.S., Mexico. Specimens from Indian Creek Canyon and the nearby Chiricahua Range were morphologically intermediate. Findley et al. 1975 (p. 84).

Sylvilagus bachmani [Brush Rabbit]
× Sylvilagus floridanus [Eastern Cottontail] NHR(Oregon). S. floridanus is introduced in Oregon. Verts and Carraway 1980.

Sylvilagus floridanus [Eastern Cottontail]
See also: Oryctolagus cuniculus; Sylvilagus audubonii, S. bachmani.
× Sylvilagus nuttallii [Mountain Cottontail] A lengthy parapatric contact zone exists in the western U.S., and Chapman (1975, p. 3) says, "some early mammalogists believed that intergradation occurred between Sylvilagus floridanus similis and S. n. grangeri along the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains. However, Hall and Kelson (1951) concluded that they do not intergrade." See note immediately preceding the cross heading for Sylvilagus audubonii.
× Sylvilagus robustus [Davis Mountains Cottontail] ENHR(southwestern U.S.). Schmidly (1977, p. 61) says a New Mexican population (cognatus), usually treated as a race of S. floridanus shows considerable morphological overlap with S. robustus. Hall and Kelson (1951, p. 56) lumped these taxa due to the existence a single probable hybrid from the Guadalupe Mountains (Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science #658). However, floridanus and robustus differ starkly in size and are often treated separately (though not by Duff and Lawson 2004).
× Sylvilagus transitionalis (♀?) [New England Cottontail] CAENHR(e U.S.). Chapman (1975, p. 1) mentions "intergradation with members of the floridanus group, causing some floridanus to take on many of the color and pelage characteristics of transitionalis." Barbour and Davis (1974, p. 127) say this interbreeding occurs in Connecticut. New England cottontails have been in decline throughout the northeastern U.S. Chapman and Morgan 1973; Dalke 1942, Fay and Chandler 1955.

Sylvilagus nuttallii [Mountain Cottontail] See: Sylvilagus floridanus.

Sylvilagus robustus [Davis Mountains Cottontail See: Sylvilagus floridanus.

Sylvilagus transitionalis [New England Cottontail] See: Oryctolagus cuniculus; Sylvilagus floridanus.

dog-cow hybrid A dog-cow hybrid?

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By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

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