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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

Hares and Rabbits: The Moon’s Sacred Companions, Part 1 of 2

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I notice that hares and rabbits differ in their physical appearance. Hares look larger and also have longer hind legs. Hares and rabbits count on the numerous veins in their furless ears to dissipate heat and regulate their body temperature. We snowshoe hares have comparatively smaller ears as heat travels shorter distances through our body and keeps us warmer in the colder climates we reside in!

In terms of habitat, you rabbits dig warrens, which are vast underground burrow systems, sometimes as deep as three meters and with several entrances. On the contrary, we hares live above the ground and make our homes in hollow logs or in simple nests that we build out of grasses and other vegetation. We hares are not as social as rabbits. Rabbits usually live in large colonies while hares tend to live solitary lives until breeding season!

Apart from the differences we discussed earlier, hares and rabbits actually have quite a lot in common. Firstly, we are both happy herbivores! In summer we eat a variety of green grasses, flowers, and leaves. In winter we feed on buds, twigs, tender bark, pine needles, and shrubs.

Do you know that hares and rabbits are sacred companions of the Moon? Many cultures, nations and people naturally associate us with the Moon. In German folklore, hares are the sacred symbol of Eostre, the Moon Goddess. In ancient times the Moon Gazing Hare was also seen as auspicious - a source of abundance, new beginnings, and good fortune. In East Asian mythology, the Moon Rabbit was entrusted by the Moon Goddess Chang’e to pound elixirs for her. The Moon Rabbit remains the symbol for the Mid-Autumn Festival, an important event celebrated throughout Asia.

Besides in cartoons and anime, hares and rabbits often appear in children’s literature as personified animal characters portraying many positive characteristics. Through these charming characters, we help humans - adults and children alike - to reflect on our sentience and virtues as animals. This understanding will lead to greater love, compassion, and mutual respect for all sentient beings, eventually turning Planet Earth into an Eden for all of us co-inhabitants!

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