(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The Japanese hare, the scientific name Lepus brachyurus is a species of hare native to Japan. They are discovered throughout principal islands Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. These hares inhabit largely mountains or hilly areas. They additionally reside in forests or brushy areas. Due to human encroachment, although, they now happen around city environments.

Japanese Hare profile

Japanese hares are solitary and nocturnal. They don’t burrow, however will disguise within the scrub or brush throughout the daytime. When they’re energetic at night, they will travel about 1000 m in a single night in forested areas and might cover roughly 6 hectares.

Nothing is thought about parental care in Japanese hares, nonetheless, the younger of different hares are precocial and have restricted parental care and this may be inferred for Japanese hares.

Japanese hares are reddish-brown in shade. They have very quick tails which are solely 2-5 cm long and virtually invisible. Their name is derived from the Ancient Greek brachys “short” and ouros “tail”.

In areas of northern Japan, the west coast, and the island of Sado, the place snowfall is heavy, Japanese hares lose their coloration within the autumn and turn out to be white till the spring when the reddish-brown fur returns.

Japanese hares are crepuscular animals and feed primarily within the night and early morning. They are silent besides when they’re in bother and provide out a call for the misery.

They do not create burrows themselves, however, disguise themselves within the scrub or brushcan or could occupy deserted burrows typically. Japanese hares are solitary creatures that desire to reside alone besides throughout mating season. At this time, women and men collect for breeding.

Japanese hares are herbivores and feed on grasses, shrubs, and bushes. These hares additionally eat the bark off of bushes; they might typically eat the bark from a bonsai tree in Asia.

Japanese hares are polygynandrous (promiscuous) which implies that each male and females have a number of companions throughout a breeding season. During this time, women and men meet collectively and males could behave aggressively, doing boxing, in an effort to compete for mates. The breeding season continues year-round.

Females produce a number of litters per year, every of which incorporates 1-6 younger. The gestation interval lasts around 43-45 days. Little is thought in regards to parental care in Japanese hares. The age of maturity is unsure, however, it’s prompt that females most likely breed inside a year of beginning.

japanese hare lepus brachyurus

Geographic Range

Japanese hares are endemic to Japan. They are generally discovered on the mainland islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu and a lot of the surrounding Japanese islands, excluding Hokkaido.

There are 4 subspecies of the Japanese hare discovered in numerous geographical areas. Lepus brachyurus angustidens is present in northern Honshu, L. b. lyoni is discovered on Sado Island, L. b. brachyurus is present in southern Honshu, and L. b. okiensis is discovered on the Oki Islands.

Japanese Hare Physical Description

Adult Japanese hares are mid-size mammals with body plenty starting from 1.Three to 2.5 kg. There are variations in shade from a darkish brown to a red-brown with areas of white. All 4 subspecies are brownish in the summertime, however, L. brachyurus angustidens and L.b.lyoni change their coat colours to white within the winter.

Like all members of the Order Lagomorpha, Japanese hares have a second set of incisors, or peg teeth, behind their first higher incisors. All hares have a dental formula of i 2/1, c 0/0, p 3/2, m 3/3.

There are variations between Japanese hare subspecies discovered on the principal island and people discovered on surrounding islands. The dimensions of a mainland feminine Japanese hare described in 1905 had been 505 mm head and body size, 40 mm tail size, 135 mm hindfoot size, and 78 mm ear size.

Measurements from a feminine Japanese hare from Oki Island had been a 506 mm head and body size, a 54 mm tail, a 138 mm hindfoot, and a 78 mm ear.

The subspecies discovered on the smaller islands seem to have sexual dimorphism, with the overwhelming majority of skull traits being smaller in males than in females.

On the main island, the one characteristic that’s not equal in size is the width of the palate. In common, the subspecies on the small islands are sometimes bigger in mass, size of the head, and size of the body.

The subspecies on the main island have bigger ears, hind feet size, and skull size in comparison with these on the islands. It has been prompt that this variation shouldn’t be as a consequence of insular variation, however, that the island types are literally nearer to the ancestral type and the principal island subspecies has advanced and tailored to a changing environment.


While nothing is thought about communication between Japanese hares, the information could also be inferred from different hare species. There seem to be numerous forms of vocalizations, largely high-pitched, that happen when hares are confronted with uncomfortable or scary conditions. Like different hares, listening to is a vital mode of notion.

Japanese Hare Food Habits

Japanese hares are opportunistic herbivores that usually eat newly planted grasses, grasses at plantations, and younger bushes and shrubs. Their principal source of meals throughout the summer comes from the Family Gramineae, which incorporates the grasses and lots of industrial crops.

In northern Japan, when these grasses are unavailable as a consequence of winter snow cover, Japanese hares eat the buds and seedlings of younger bushes, usually present in plantations.

Researchers examined which bushes had been favored within the winter and concluded that the overwhelming majority of bushes had been Phyllostachys praecox, bamboo that is high in crude protein content.

Other popular winter bushes embrace Acer, Paulownia, Acanthopanax, Aralia, and Leguminosae. The bushes and shrubs chosen by Japanese hares usually have elevated quantities of branches and stems, that are usually present in younger forests. Most of the bushes which are consumed have high protein content.

Japanese hares additionally interact in coprophagy or the reingestion of feces. While coprophagy is widespread in most hares, what is exclusive in L. brachyurus is that it reingests each gentle and exhausting feces, as they’re noticed merely swallowing gentle feces and chewing exhausting feces.

Coprophagy is completed to extract as many vitamins as possible from their tough-to-digest plant meals. There can also be a positive relationship between the dearth of accessible meals and an elevated incidence of consuming exhausting feces.


Japanese hares don’t reside longer than four years within the wild.

japanese hare lepus brachyurus


Japanese hares could be discovered all through Japan in city, rural, and forest settings, however, the overwhelming majority are present in rural areas. They are usually present in areas with dense shrub-like vegetation and a low tree cover, usually close to the sting of forests.

Japanese hares are predominant in younger, Japanese cedar plantations the place there may be loads of incoming light and an abundance of vegetation. Japanese hares are additionally discovered close to and around rivers or streams. They range from sea level to 2700 m. Japanese hares don’t inhabit mountainous areas.


The Japanese hare, like most hares and rabbits, is crepuscular (feeds primarily within the night and early morning). It is silent besides when it’s in misery and provides out a call for the misery. It can occupy burrows typically. It is a solitary animal besides throughout mating season when women and men collect for breeding.

Japanese Hare Diet

Vegetation present in and round its habitat is the place the Japanese hare will get most of its vitamins. Grasses, shrubs, and bushes are all eaten by the hare.

The Japanese hare is among the few hares that can eat the bark off of bushes and it does so sometimes which may trigger main harm to bushes and forests. They will typically eat the bark from a bonsai tree in Asia.


Japanese hares are readily preyed on by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), and Japanese martens (Martes melampus).

The shade change within the northern subspecies of Japanese hares, from brown to white within the winter, is probably going a cryptic shade change to mix into their surrounding setting and keep away from predation.

Population threats

There are not any main threats to Japanese hares at present. However, the inhabitants of this species on Sado Island suffer vastly from the predation of launched Japanese marten.

These hares now happen in city environments a lot and so they have turn out to be a nuisance in some locations. They are hunted in sure areas for meals, fur, pelts, and to assist control their rising numbers.

Population quantity

According to the IUCN Red List, the total inhabitant’s size of the Japanese hare is unknown. However, there may be an estimated number of inhabitants of the species in Niigata prefecture containing 140,000 hares. Currently, this species is assessed as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers right now are stable.

Ecological area of interest

Japanese hares are crucial as prey merchandise being prey for native predators. They additionally influence the vegetation which they consume. This species is among the few hares that eat the bark of bushes; it does this sometimes and it could actually trigger main harm to bushes and forests.

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Japanese Hare Reproduction

The litter size of the Japanese hare varies from 1 to six. The age of maturity is unsure, however females most likely breed inside a year of beginning. Breeding continues year-round. Several litters are born every year, every of which contains 2–four people. Mating is promiscuous; males chase females, and field to repel rivals.

Nothing is thought about Japanese hare mating methods. There is, nonetheless, generalizable information concerning different species of hares. Aside from arctic hares, which pair every breeding season, most female and male hares are promiscuous.

Male and feminine hares come collectively throughout the breeding season and males typically display aggressive behavior, comparable to boxing, in an effort to compete for mates.

Japanese hares have a long breeding season, starting in early January and ending in August. The variety of litters per season ranges from four to five. The average litter size ranges from one to 4, with 1.6 infants being the average and the average weight of the younger at birth is 132 g.

There is a 1:1 ratio of males to females born in every litter. Within one breeding season, a typical feminine will average 7.four younger. The weaning interval usually takes place 2 to three weeks after beginning.

Female hares turn out to be sexually mature at ten months old. The gestation interval ranges from 43 to 45 days and the interval between births ranges from 33 to 109 days. An interbirth interval shorter than the gestation interval suggests the opportunity for superfoetation.

japanese hare lepus brachyurus

This is additionally supported by the incidence of postcoital ovulation in Japanese hares. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there may also be delays between the beginning and the next copulation. Sometimes feminine Japanese hares will thrust back males with whom they don’t need to copulate.

There are a few variabilities in breeding patterns between northern and southern Japanese hares as breeding seems to be affected by temperature, photoperiod, and precipitation.

Environments in higher latitudes have decreased temperature and photoperiods all through the vast majority of the year and research of captive animals have discovered that with growing latitude, the breeding season, gestation interval and litter size decreases

Ecosystem Roles

Due to the massive population sizes of Japanese hares, they’re extraordinarily essential within the meal net. They are prey for bigger mammals and so they influence the vegetation on which they feed. They could cause harm to woody bushes and vegetation when they’re foraging for buds within the winter.


The Japanese hare inhabitants appear to be stable, although the standard or/and size of their habitat is reducing. On a neighborhood level, they’re utilized in searching and specimen gathering.

They are threatened by the creation of city and industrial areas, water management methods, comparable to dams, searching, trapping, and invasive and non-native illnesses and species. It shouldn’t be recognized in the event that they happen in any protected areas.

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