The Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)
More significant than our native rabbits at around 60cm, weighing in at about 4kg, they have distinctive long, black-tipped ears. The Brown Hare is, in fact, reddish-brown colour with yellow dots to their fur.
The brown hare lives in exposed areas such as grassland and farmland and therefore rely on acute sense to detect danger and predators. They are speedy runners reaching speeds of up to 45mph. They can outrun most of their predators but tend to ‘lie low’, staying still, hoping that the threat will pass.
They shelter in a ‘form’, a shallow burrow, more of a nest, dug into the ground or in grasses.
The Brown Hare is now in decline in the UK, thought to be due to changes in agriculture practices. Adults typically live 3 to 4 years.
Most likely to be seen from February to September as this is the breeding season, and this is when males may be seen ‘boxing’ for a female’s attention. A female hare can have three or four litters of young – named leverets – each year, but she provides very little care to her babies except a nightly feed.
Whilst not a common pest for UK householders, they can enter gardens, and with their diet of vegetation and the bark of young trees and shrubs, they can cause significant damage. The additional concern for homeowners spotting a hare is that foxes generally gather in an area where there are young hares.