European Hare

Unlike rabbits, hares do not live in burrows. They spend most of the time alone, although a few may be seen together at good feeding sites. A fast-running hare, with long hind limbs, the brown, or European hare is mainly active at dusk and at night. During the day European hares crouch in small hollows in the grass called forms, sometimes leaving their backs just visible over the vegetation. In Europe, the main breeding season is in spring, and at this time European hares can often be seen during the day, with males fighting one another and pursuing females. It feeds on leaves, buds, roots, berries, fruit, fungi, bark and twigs. It is usually a solitary animal.

A number of predators target European hares, and in Europe these include foxes and eagles. If a predator detects a hare, the hare flees, running at speeds of up to 60 kph (37 mph) and making sharp, evasive turns. Injured or captured hares are known to make high-pitched screams.

European hares are easily distinguishable from European rabbits by their larger size and longer ears and limbs.

In order to reduce the risk of losing all of their young leverets to predators, females hide them in different locations in specially dug forms, and visit them one by one to nurse them. Although European hares are common, changing farming practices have caused a decline in hare numbers in some countries, such as Britain.

The female may have several litters a year, each of between 1 and 6 young, which are born in the form, fully furred and active, with their eyes open. They are suckled for about 3 weeks and leave their mother about a month after birth.

Distribution: Southern Scandinavia, northern Spain and Britain to Siberia and north-western Iran.

Habitat: Grasslands and agricultural land.

Food: Grass, herbs, crop plants and occasionally twigs and bark.

Size: 60 - 70 cm (23.5 - 27.5 in); 3 - 5 kg (6.5 - 11 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: Litter of 1 - 8 young; 2 or more litters per year.

Life span: 7 years.

Status: Common.