How Are Rabbits And Kangaroos Related? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

If you have ever seen a kangaroo and a rabbit side by side, you have probably wondered at least once if they are related in some way.

How Are Rabbits And Kangaroos Related? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

I mean, they both hop and look quite similar, but we shouldn’t be so quick to assume that they must be closely related, just because they look similar and possess some of the same abilities and characteristics. 

Of course there are many differences, as well as similarities to look at when looking at how rabbits and kangaroos may be related.

For instance, rabbits will spend most, if not all of their life on all four limbs, whilst kangaroos will mainly stay on two feet with their two smaller forelimbs acting as small arms. 

The only real way to answer how and if rabbits and kangaroos are related is to have a closer look into both of their ancestry and families in the animal kingdom. 

Are Rabbits and Kangaroos Related?

Even though rabbits and kangaroos may seem similar when it comes to their appearance and gait, no, rabbits and kangaroos are not related in any capacity.

We’ll explain in more detail why they’re not related and some of the similarities and differences they both have.

Why Aren’t Kangaroos and Rabbits Related?

The main reason why kangaroos and rabbits aren’t related is because the kangaroos is a marsupial mammal, whilst rabbits are placental mammals. 

You may be wondering what a marsupial mammal is and what a placental mammal is.

A marsupial mammal gives birth to their offspring whilst they are still not developed and are then carried and suckled in the pouch of the mother’s bellies, animals that fall under this category are koala bears, opossums and of course, kangaroos. 

A placental mammal has the ability to give birth to live offspring. 

Placental Mammals

Placental mammals have fetuses inside them that are developed and nourished before birth whilst they are still in the uterus of the mammal.

Inside the uterus, there is something called a placenta, which is where the nutrients are given to the fetus, and where waste is filtered out.  

Whilst marsupials do also have placentas, the difference is that the placentas they have are very short lived and the nutrients that are passed down to the fetus is not as much as the nutrients passed down to the fetus in a placental mammal. 

Animals who are considered placental mammals are dogs, cats, rodents, sheep, cows and of course, us humans. 

Marsupial Mammals 

The easiest way to distinguish a marsupial mammal from a placental mammal is that they will have a pouch in their stomach that carries their young. 

Marsupials have a very different gestation period than placental mammals too. 

Marsupials will give birth to their young at an early stage when they are not fully developed.

In order for the embryo to develop and mature, it will climb out of its mother’s birth canal and head straight for the nipples to get milk.

It will usually develop here for weeks or months, depending on the species of the mammal. 

The reason why marsupials have such a short gestation period is because their placentas are quite small.

On the other hand, placental mammals will support their fetuses’ development using their own blood, this allows for longer gestation periods. 

Differences Between Rabbits and Kangaroos

In case you’re still not convinced that rabbits and kangaroos are not related, here are some of the biggest differences between the two mammals. 

  • Like we just learnt, kangaroos are marsupial mammals, whilst rabbits are placental mammals.
  • Rabbits are distributed all over the world, but are seen to be an endangered species in Australia. Whilst Kangaroos are only really seen in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
  • Kangaroos have more than 40 species, whilst rabbits have more than 50 species. 
  • Rabbits don’t have a pouch, when it comes to feeding their young with their milk, they will simply stand over them and nurse them.  Kangaroos do have pouches, and inside these pouches they have mammary glands. The mother will secrete milk and their young will climb its way to the nipple in order to get the nutrients it needs.
  • Rabbits can have babies very quickly, their gestation period is only 30 days and they will give birth to more than one litter every year. Kangaroos can become sexually recepetive again even after giving birth to a newly born joey, so they can get pregnant again immediately after giving birth.
  • Rabbits will only use all four of their limbs, and only occasionally use their hind legs. Kangaroos are the opposite, they tend to mostly use their hind legs and will only sometimes use all fours. 
  • Rabbits are quite small, the maximum height they can reach is 0.5m and the maximum weight they can reach is 2kg. Kangaroos are quite large in size, they can measure up to 2m and weigh up to 90kg.
  • Rabbits are coprophagous animals, which means they will eat their own feces, and feces of other animals. Kangaroos are not coprophagous animals. 

Similarities Between Rabbits and Kangaroos

Similarities Between Rabbits and Kangaroos

There’s only a few similarities that rabbits and kangaroos share, and these are:

  • Both the rabbit and kangaroo are mammals.
  • They both share the same preferred method of movement, which is hopping. Rabbits will use both of their feet to hop, whilst kangaroos will use both of their hind legs to execute a bipedal hop.
  • Both rabbits and kangaroos have strong hind legs that they use to hop. 

What Is The Closest Relative To A Rabbit?

A rabbit’s closest relative would be the rodent. But, it’s important to note that even closely related groups of animals can drastically differ from one another. 

This can be seen through their similar appearance, similar diet and also relatively small stature.

Rabbits did also belong to the order of Rodentia, but after evolving differently to rodents this soon changed after some time.

The biggest difference between rabbits and rodents is seen through their incisors.

Rabbits have 4 whilst rodents have 2, another difference is that rabbits are completely herbivores whilst rodents will eat meat sometimes.

What Is The Closest Relative To A Kangaroo?

There are a few animals that are closely related to kangaroos. These include koalas, wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils and opossums.

This is because all of  these animals are marsupials too. 

Even wallabies, which look almost identical to kangaroos, are not that related to kangaroos.

They belong to the same marsupial family, but they’re very distinct to one another, most notably being their size.

Kangaroos are quite a unique animal, and because of this, they don’t have many distinctive relatives. 

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, rabbits and kangaroos are not related in the slightest.

They may look similar and move in the same way (hopping), but their main difference is that rabbits are placental mammals whilst kangaroos are marsupial mammals, along with many other differences, like their size and diet habits.

They don’t really have many similarities between them, but just because they both hop, doesn’t mean that they have to be related.

Although, it’s easy to see why so many jump to the conclusion that they are closely related.

Olivia Kepner