British Wildlife Wiki

The European Hare (Lepus europaeus) are generally shy and retiring animals, and can frequently be mistaken for a rabbit from a distance. Although they are mainly nocturnal, like the rabbit, the hare lives above ground and sleeps in secluded nests scratched out into a hollow – they construct these nests in places where movement is easily heard, to protect themselves from daytime predators. Not many vocalizations have been recorded from the hare, although it is said to grind its teeth as an alarm call to predators, and does grunt as a signal to her young.

Hares do not run from predators immediately. Instead, they crouch down, and often escape detection. If a predator gets too close, then the hare will run as fast as possible towards cover.


Hare - Erik Paterson


The European Hare is native to the majority of Europe and western Asia, though it was introduced to Great Britain centuries ago (where it has since partially replaced its relative, the Mountain Hare) Hares prefer open fields surrounded by scrub, as opposed to the its cousin the rabbits network of burrows and bolt-holes; as a result, hares can often be found in agricultural or farming land. ==Social Interaction ==

Hares are mainly solitary, and are only found in numbers in the mating season, or when a female (or doe) has a litter of young (called leverets). Hares are active all year round, and there is little evidence to show that they are restricted to a specific territory or range – this results in the hare being able to move freely as food levels fluctuate. The litter size to a doe is potentially between 1 and 8, with the average numbers being 3 to 8 leverets in a single litter. To protect the young that are vulnerable on the ground, the mother disperses them over a wide area and makes “rounds”, visiting each in turn – this method ensures that if a predator were to find one leveret, the entire litter would not be killed. The "rounds" are often in clumps of grass and other unexpecting places.

As there are two mating seasons per year for the hare, the young reach maturity very quickly; the weaning period is around one month, and from that time onwards, the leveret is independent from its mother. The young hare, whether female or male, reaches maturity around 8 months in age and can then produce litters of their own. In the mating season, (usually around March/April) male hares are often seen with their heads down hobbling round fields in a slightly unusual manner. The male is actually smelling the air for females on heat, drawing the scent over sensitive areas of the roof of its mouth, similar to a tomcat's 'Flehmen' reaction. If the female if not interested in mating with him, she may try to 'box' him with her forelegs. This also occurs in males fighting over a female, and is where the phrase 'mad March hares' arose from.

Another unusual habit in the brown hare is that the females are the only mammals that are capable of carrying two or more babies of different ages in their womb in one pregnancy. Scientists are not sure why they do this or how.


Size There is not much difference at all between the size of male and female hares; in both genders, the average mass is from 2.5 to 6.5 kg, and their average body size between 50 – 70cm.

Appearance The hare is bigger-bodied, longer-legged, and larger-eared than the rabbit; the hare generally appears stronger, and more muscled than its cousin, due to its defence mechanism of outrunning a predator. With a broad, flattened nose, and large round eyes, the hare’s senses are attuned to watch for danger, to cope with a riskier life above ground. In general, the hare’s coat has evolved to blend perfectly into the bracken of its nest; the colour of their backs matches the dusty and speckled brown of undergrowth, and the tips of their ears and tails hold distinctive black markings, although its underbelly is greyish white.



thumb|300px|right|Hares - C.N.Images