(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The European hare, the scientific name Lepus europaeus, also referred to as the brown hare, is a species of hare native to Europe and components of Asia. It is among the many largest hare species and is customized to the temperate, open nations. Hares are herbivorous and feed primarily on grasses and herbs, supplementing these with twigs, buds, bark, and subject crops, significantly in winter.

In this article I am going to talk about European Hare size, habitat, skull, call of the wild, range, hunting, face, winter, running, size comparison, etc.

European Hare profile

Their natural predators embody giant birds of prey, canids, and felids. They depend on high-speed endurance working to flee predation, having long, highly effective limbs and enormous nostrils.

The European Hare or Brown Hare is a species of hare native to northern, central, and western Europe and western Asia. The European Hare is a mammal tailored to a temperate open nation.

It is expounded to the rabbit, which is in the identical family however a special genus. The European Hare breeds on the ground somewhat than in a burrow and depends on pace to flee. In comparability to the rabbit, it’s bigger in size, has longer ears and longer legs.

It is expounded to the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and people usually mistake one for the opposite. The hare is bigger and has longer ears and hind legs. Because of those long legs, when it walks, it kinda appears to be like a kangaroo.

Moreover, hares breed in a hole on the ground somewhat than in burrows. In Europe, the European hare has a cousin referred to as Mountain hare (Lepus timidus). Smaller, it turns fully white throughout winter, like a Stoat or an Arctic fox.

Generally nocturnal and shy in nature, The European Hare or Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus) change their behavior within the spring, when they are often seen in broad daylight chasing each other around in fields.

During this spring frenzy, they generally strike each other with their paws (“boxing”). This is often not a competitor between males, however a feminine hitting a male, both to indicate she just isn’t but able to mate or to check of his willpower.

The feminine nests in a depression on the floor of the ground somewhat than in a burrow and the younger are lively as quickly as they’re born. Litters could include three or 4 younger and feminine can bear three litters a year, with hares dwelling for as much as twelve years. The breeding season lasts from January to August.

Thought to have been launched into the UK in Roman instances (and even earlier), the brown hare is now thought of naturalized. It is commonest in grassland habitats and at woodland edges, favoring a mosaic of arable fields, grasses, and hedgerows.

It grazes on vegetation and the bark of younger bushes and bushes. Brown hares don’t dig burrows, however, shelter in ‘kinds’, that are shallow depressions within the ground or grass; when disturbed, they are often seen bounding throughout the fields, utilizing their highly effective hind legs to propel them forwards, usually in a zigzag pattern.

Brown hares are at their most seen in early spring when the breeding season encourages preventing or ‘boxing’. Females can produce three to 4 litters of two to 4 younger (generally known as leverets) a year.

The European hare is listed as being of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a result of it has a large range and is reasonably plentiful. However, populations have been declining in mainland Europe for the reason that 1960s, no less than partly as a result of modifications in farming practices.

The hare has been hunted throughout Europe for hundreds of years, with more than 5 million being shot every year; in Britain, it has historically been hunted by beagling and hare coursing, however, these subject sports activities are actually unlawful.

The hare has been a standard image of fertility and reproduction in some cultures and its courtship behavior within the spring impressed the English idiom mad as a March hare.


European hares are native to a lot of continental Europe and a part of Asia. Their range extends from northern Spain to southern Scandinavia, eastern Europe, and northern components of Western and Central Asia.

They have been extending their range into Siberia. They could have been launched to Britain by the Romans (circa 2000 years ago). They aren’t present in Ireland, the place the mountain hare is the one native species.

Undocumented introductions in all probability occurred in some Mediterranean Islands. They have additionally been launched, largely as game animals, to North America (in Ontario and New York State, and unsuccessfully in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), the Southern Cone (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay), Bolivia, Chile, Peru and the Falkland Islands, Australia, each island of New Zealand and the South Pacific coast of Russia.

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European Hare Habitat

Hares primarily dwell in open fields with a scattered brush for shelter. They are very adaptable and thrive in blended farmland. According to an examination carried out within the Czech Republic, the mean hare densities have been highest at altitudes under 200 meters (660 ft), 40 to 60 days of annual snow cover, 450 to 700 millimeters (18 to 28 in) of annual precipitation, and a imply annual air temperature of around 10 °C (50 °F).

With regards to local weather, the study discovered that hare densities have been highest in “warm and dry districts with mild winters”. In Poland, hares are most plentiful in areas with few forest edges, maybe as a result of foxes can use these for cover.

They require cover, equivalent to hedges, ditches, and everlasting cover areas, as a result of these habitats provide the numerous diet they require and are discovered at decrease densities in giant open fields. Intensive cultivation of the land ends in better mortality of younger hares (leverets).

European Hare Description

The European hare, like different members of the family Leporidae, is a fast-running terrestrial mammal; it has eyes set high on the perimeters of its head, long ears, and a versatile neck.

Its teeth develop repeatedly, the first incisors being modified for gnawing whereas the second incisors are peg-like and non-functional. There is a niche (diastema) between the incisors and the cheek teeth, the latter being tailored for grinding coarse plant materials.

The dental system is 2/1, 0/0, 3/2, 3/3. The darkish limb musculature of hares is customized for high-speed endurance working in an open nation. By distinction, cottontail rabbits are constructed for brief bursts of pace in more vegetated habitats.

Other adaptions for high pace working in hares embody wider nostrils and bigger hearts. In comparability to the European rabbit, the hare has a proportionally smaller abdomen and caecum.

This hare is likely one of the largest of the lagomorphs. Its head and body size can range from 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) with a tail size of seven.2 to 11 cm (2.eight to 4.Three in).

The body mass is usually between Three and 5 kg (6.6 and 11.Zero lb). The hare’s elongated ears range from 9.Four to 11.Zero cm (3.7 to 4.Three in) from the notch to tip.

It additionally has long hind feet which have a size of between 14 and 16 cm (5.5 and 6.Three in). The skull has nasal bones which are quick, however broad and heavy.

The supraorbital ridge has well-developed anterior and posterior lobes and the lacrimal bone tasks prominently from the anterior wall of the orbit.


The European Hare grows to about 50 – 70 centimeters and has a tail size of seven – 11 centimeters.

The weight of a full-grown adult hare varies between 2.5 and 6.5 kilograms.


The fur color is grizzled yellow-brown on the back; rufous on the shoulders, legs, neck, and throat; white on the underside and black on the tail and ear ideas. The fur on the back is usually longer and more curled than on the remainder of the body.

The European hare’s fur doesn’t flip fully white within the winter as is the case with another member of the genus, though the perimeters of the pinnacle and base of the ears do develop white areas and the hip and rump area could acquire some gray.

European Hares are typically shy mammals, nonetheless, their behavior modifications in springtime. Many are seen in broad daylight chasing each other in meadows. This behavior seems to be competition between the male European Hares to achieve dominance which permits them more entry to breeding feminine European Hares.

European Hare Food and foraging

European hares are primarily herbivorous. They could forage for wild grasses and weeds however with the intensification of agriculture, they’ve taken to feeding on crops when most well-liked meals aren’t accessible.

During the spring and summer season, they feed on soy, clover, and corn poppy in addition to grasses and herbs. During autumn and winter, they primarily select winter wheat and are additionally interested in piles of sugar beet and carrots offered to them by hunters.

They additionally eat twigs, buds, and the bark of shrubs and younger fruit bushes throughout winter. Cereal crops are often prevented when different more enticing meals can be found, the species showing to favor high energy foodstuffs over crude fiber.

When consuming twigs, hares strip off the bark to enter the vascular tissues which retailer soluble carbohydrates. Compared to the European rabbit, meals pass by means of the intestine more quickly within the hare, though digestion charges are related.

They generally eat their very own green, faecal pellets to recuperate undigested proteins and nutritional vitamins. Two to 3 adult hares can eat more meals than a single sheep.

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European Hare Behavior

Because of its long legs, it will possibly run at speeds of as much as 70 kilometers per hour. European Hares are herbivores and their diet consists of grasses and herbs throughout summer season months and modifications to twigs and bark within the winter.

The European Hare is named a pest to orchard farmers because it additionally feeds upon buds of younger orchard bushes through the end of winter.

Hares are primarily nocturnal and spend a 3rd of their time foraging. During the daytime, a hare hides in a melancholy within the ground referred to as a “form” the place it’s partially hidden.

Hares can run at 70 km/h (43 mph) and when confronted by predators they depend on outrunning them within the open. They are typically considered asocial however could be seen in each giant and small teams.

They don’t seem territorial, dwelling in shared house ranges of around 300 ha (740 acres). Hares talk with one another by a wide range of visible alerts. To present curiosity they increase their ears, whereas decreasing the ears warns others to maintain away.

When difficult a conspecific, a hare thumps its front feet; the hind feet are used to warn others of a predator. A hare squeals when damage or scared and a female makes “guttural” calls to draw her younger. Hares can dwell for as long as twelve years.

If you see brown hares ‘boxing’ within the fields, it’s most probably that you’re watching a feminine keeping off the advances of an amorous male, not two males preventing.

If a battle does occur, the 2 hares will stand on their hind legs and assault one another with their front paws, pulling out fur. This gives the look of two boxers in a hoop.


European hares forage in teams. Group feeding is useful as people can spend more time feeding figuring out that different hares are being vigilant. Nevertheless, the distribution of meals impacts these advantages.

When meals are well-spaced, all hares are in a position to enter it. When meals are clumped collectively, solely dominant hares can access them.

In small gatherings, dominants are more profitable in defending meals, however as more people take part, they need to spend more time driving off others. The bigger the group, the much less time dominant people have by which to eat.

Meanwhile, the subordinates can access the meals whereas the dominants are distracted. As such, when in teams, all people fare worse when meals are clumped versus when it’s broadly spaced.

European Hare Reproduction

During their spring dominance competitions, males could be seen performing what is named ‘boxing matches’, hitting one another with their paws. It is mostly carried out by the males, nonetheless, females have been recognized to carry out this act by hitting males when they aren’t able to mate or to check the willpower of the male.

European hares have a chronic breeding season that lasts from January to August. Females, or does, could be discovered pregnant in all breeding months, and males, or bucks, are fertile all year-round besides throughout October and November.

After this hiatus, the size and exercise of the males’ testes improve, signaling the start of a brand new reproductive cycle. This continues by means of December, January and February when the reproductive tract beneficial properties back its performance.

Matings start before ovulation happens and the first pregnancies of the year usually lead to a single fetus, with being pregnant failures being frequent. Peak reproductive exercise happens in March and April when all females could also be pregnant, the bulk with three or more fetuses.

The mating system of the hare has been described as polygynous (single males mating with a number of females) and promiscuous. Females have six-weekly reproductive cycles and are receptive for just a few hours at a time, making competitors amongst native bucks intense.

At the height of the breeding season, this phenomenon is named “March madness”, when the usually nocturnal bucks are compelled to be lively within the daytime. In addition to dominant animals subduing subordinates, the feminine fights off her quite a few suitors if she just isn’t able to mate.

Fights could be vicious and might go away with quite a few scars on the ears. In these encounters, hares stand upright and assault one another with their paws, a follow generally known as “boxing”, and this exercise is often between a feminine and a male and never between competing males as was beforehand believed.

When a doe is able to mate, she runs throughout the countryside, beginning a chase that checks the stamina of the next males. When solely the fittest male stays, the feminine stops and permits him to copulate.

Female fertility continues by means of May, June, and July, however, testosterone manufacturing decreases in males and sexual behavior turns into much less overt.

Litter sizes lower because the breeding season attracts to a detailed with no pregnancies occurring after August. The testes of males start to regress and sperm manufacturing ends in September.

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Does give delivery in hole depressions within the ground. An individual feminine could have three litters in a year with a 41- to 42-day gestation interval. The younger have an average weight of around 130 grams (4.6 oz) at birth.

The leverets are totally furred and are precocial, being prepared to depart the nest quickly after they’re born, an adaptation to the dearth of bodily safety relative to that afforded by a burrow. Leverets disperse through the day and are available collectively within the night near the place they have been born.

Their mom visits them for nursing quickly after sundown; the younger suckle for around 5 minutes, urinating whereas they achieve this, with the doe licking up the fluid. She then leaps away in order to not go away an olfactory path, and the leverets disperse as soon as more.

Young can eat stable meals after two weeks and are weaned when they’re 4 weeks old. While younger of both sex generally discover their environment, natal dispersal tends to be better in males. Sexual maturity happens at seven or eight months for females and 6 months for males.


European hares are giant leporids and adults can solely be tackled by giant predators equivalent to canids, felids, and the biggest birds of prey.

In Poland it was discovered that the consumption of hares by foxes was at its highest throughout spring when the supply of small animal prey was low; presently of year, hares could represent as much as 50% of the biomass eaten by foxes, with 50% of the mortality of adult hares being brought on by their predation.

In Scandinavia, a natural epizootic of sarcoptic mange which diminished the inhabitants of red foxes dramatically resulted in a rise within the variety of European hares, which returned to earlier ranges when the numbers of foxes subsequently elevated.

The golden eagle preys on the European hare within the Alps, the Carpathians, the Apennines, and northern Spain. In North America, foxes and coyotes are in all probability the commonest predators, with bobcats and lynx additionally preying on them in more distant areas.


Length: 50-70cm
Weight: 2-5kg
Average lifespan: 2-Four years

When to see

January to December


The European hare has a large range throughout Europe and western Asia and has been launched to quite a few different nations across the globe, usually as a game species.

In normal it’s thought of reasonably plentiful in its native range, however, declines in populations have been famous in lots of areas for the reason that 1960s. These have been related to the intensification of agricultural practices.

The hare is an adaptable species and might transfer into new habitats, however, it thrives finest when there may be an availability of all kinds of weeds and different herbs to complement its major diet of grasses.

The hare is taken into account as a pest in some areas; it’s more likely to injury crops and younger bushes in winter when there aren’t sufficient various foodstuffs accessible.

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature has evaluated the European hare’s conservation standing as being of the least concern. However, at low inhabitants densities, hares are susceptible to native extinctions because the accessible gene pool declines, making inbreeding more probable.

Introduced, however, naturalized species. Protected within the UK underneath the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species underneath the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

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