European Hare

European Hare

Taxobox
name = European HareMSW3 Hoffmann | pages = 198-199]
status = LR/lc | status_system = IUCN2.3
status_ref = IUCN2006 | assessors = Lagomorph Specialist Group | year = 1996 | id = 41280 | title = Lepus europaeus | downloaded = 2006-05-12 Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern]



regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Lagomorpha
familia = Leporidae
genus = "Lepus"
species = "L. europaeus"
binomial = "Lepus europaeus"
binomial_authority = Pallas, 1778

The European Hare or Brown Hare ("Lepus europaeus") is a species of hare native to northern, central, and western Europe and western Asia.

It is a mammal adapted to temperate open country. It is related to the similarly appearing rabbit, which is in the same family but a different genus. It breeds on the ground rather than in a burrow and relies on speed to escape.

It is larger, longer-eared, and longer-legged than a rabbit. It has a body size of 50-70 cm and a tail length of 7-11 cm. The weight for a full-grown adult ranges from 2.5 to 6.5 kg. It can run at speeds of up to 70 km/h (45 mi/h). It is strictly herbivorous. It eats grasses and herbs during the summer months but changes to feeding on twigs, bark, and the buds of young trees in winter, making it a pest to orchard farmers.

Normally shy animals, hares change their behaviour in spring, when they can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around meadows; this appears to be competition between males to attain dominance (and hence more access to breeding females).

During this spring frenzy, hares can be seen "boxing". This is where hares strike one another with their paws. For a long time it had been thought that this was more inter-male competition, but closer observation has revealed that it is usually a female hitting a male, either to show that she is not yet quite ready to mate or as a test of his determination.

The hare is declining in Europe due to changes in farming practices. Its natural predators include the Golden Eagle and carnivorous mammals like the Red Fox and Wolf.

Smaller hares native to southern Europe previously regarded as European Hares have been split off as separate species in recent years, including the Broom Hare in northern Spain.

Wild populations

The European Hare is now wild in Eastern North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and many islands including Tasmania, the Falklands, Barbados and Reunion. [Reid, N. & Montgomery, W. I. (submitted to Royal Irish Academy) Naturalisation of the brown hare in Ireland]

The species was imported to North America from Germany by a farmer living near Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in 1912. It escaped from the farm, successfully colonised fields and woodland edges, and quickly made the "Jackrabbit" a common sight in southern Ontario, New York State and New England where it is sometimes called the 'Eastern Jackrabbit'. Natural predators such as eagles, owls, foxes, coyotes, and bobcats, together with humans and dogs, have kept the American population under control.Fact|date=February 2007 Hares have often been hunted or coursed for sport.

"Jackrabbit" in American usage (attested in 1882) more specifically refers to the closely related Black-tailed Jackrabbit ("Lepus californicus") and the White-tailed Jackrabbit ("Lepus townsendii"). The name is supposed to be a shortening of "jackass-rabbit", so called for its long ears.

Mythology

In pre-Christian Britain the hare was associated with the spring goddess Eostre, and a connection lives on in the Easter Bunny celebrations. In Holland, Belgium and some other European mainland countries, it still is the Easter Hare rather than the Easter Bunny.

References

External links

* [http://www.arkive.org/species/ARK/mammals/Lepus_europaeus/ ARKive] Photographs Videos


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  • European hare — noun A Eurasian hare species (Lepus europaeus or Lepus capensis). Also called brown hare, or in Eastern North America, where there is a wild population originating from escaped farmed animals, eastern jackrabbit …   Wiktionary

  • European hare — noun large hare introduced in North America; does not turn white in winter • Syn: ↑Lepus europaeus • Hypernyms: ↑hare • Member Holonyms: ↑Lepus, ↑genus Lepus …   Useful english dictionary

  • Hare — Hare, n. [AS. hara; akin to D. haas, G. hase, OHG. haso, Dan. & Sw. hare, Icel. h[=e]ri, Skr. [,c]a[,c]a. [root]226.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A rodent of the genus {Lepus}, having long hind legs, a short tail, and a divided upper lip. It is… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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