- European Hare
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 =
2006-05-12Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern]
phylum = Chordata
genus = "Lepus"
species = "L. europaeus"
binomial = "Lepus europaeus"
binomial_authority = Pallas, 1778
The European Hare or Brown Hare ("Lepus europaeus") is a species of
harenative to northern, central, and western Europeand 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
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 Eagleand carnivorous mammals like the Red Foxand 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 Harein northern Spain.
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
Germanyby a farmer living near Cambridge, Ontario, Canadain 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 Stateand New Englandwhere 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.
In pre-Christian Britain the hare was associated with the spring goddess
Eostre, and a connection lives on in the Easter Bunnycelebrations. In Holland, Belgium and some other European mainland countries, it still is the Easter Hare rather than the Easter Bunny.
* [http://www.arkive.org/species/ARK/mammals/Lepus_europaeus/ ARKive] Photographs Videos
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