Hares are furry animals that are closely related to rabbits. They are leporids from the Lepus genus. Hares are also categorized in the same family as rabbits.
They can easily be mistaken for Rabbits because they are alike in figure and size.
Nevertheless, the differences between hares and rabbits are that hares possess longer ears, and they live alone or in groups of two.
Another difference that stands them out from rabbits is that their offsprings can take care of themselves almost immediately after birth.
The most peculiar thing or difference is that most hares are very fast runners. They are endemic to Africa, North America, and Eurasia.
There are 32 species of hares across various subgenuses. Some of the species include:
- Antelope jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)
- Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus)
- Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus)
- Alaskan hare (Lepus othus)
- Mountain hare (Lepus timidus)
- Black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)
- White-sided jackrabbit (Lepus callotis)
- Cape hare (Lepus capensis)
- Tehuantepec jackrabbit (Lepus flavigularis)
- Black jackrabbit (Lepus insularis)
- Scrub hare (Lepus saxatilis)
- Desert hare (Lepus tibetanus)
Hares are known for their lightning speed, and they have the ability to run up to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour) over brief distances.
When the distance is longer, some hares, particularly the European hare, can run at a speed of 56 kilometres per hour (35 miles per hour).
The five species of jackrabbits found in the central and western part of North America can run at a speed of 64 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour) over longer distances and can leap as high as 3 meters at a time.
Their offsprings are usually predated on by foxes, stoats, buzzards, and owls, but the adult hares often use their incredible speed to escape their attacks. Their lifespan ranges between 2 – 4 years.
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Hares are larger in size, more athletic-looking, and much more swift than rabbits. Their limbs are also longer than that of the rabbits. The tip of their ears are black, and they have longer tails than rabbits. Hares are described as solitary and shy animals.
They are not known to breed or live in groups, and they live alone or in twos. Their young ones are adaptable to the absence of physical protection, so they are born open-eyed and fully furred, unlike their close relatives, the rabbits whose young are born blind and hairless.
Hares are known to develop and mature very early, and soon after birth, the young ones can look after themselves. Hares can easily be spotted when they are feeding, which is during dusk or in the early hours of the morning.
During feeding time, they often sit up to observe their surroundings. They use their sharp olfactory and auditory senses to locate nearby predators.
When they are in motion on the ground, they keep their bodies close to the earth and sleep their eyes flat on their backs in order to remain unnoticed.
Hares are hearty eaters, and they consume sizeable quantities of plants. This makes their digestive system configured to handle the quantity of the food they take.
During the day, they secrete soft droppings that they eat. The food present in the droppings provides the needed nutrition.
The other thing contained in the feces is bacteria, which helps break down the food in their stomachs. At night, they expel solid, firm, and round feces. Mother hares have a special way of communicating with their offsprings.
This is a safety measure as the sound enables them to find her and suckle.
Hares mostly mate during the period between January and October. Spring is their primary mating season.
The period from their mating to conception to birth ranges between 42 – 44 days. During delivery, two or three young hares are born, and young hares are called “leverets”.
They are born in a nest enclosed in a form and lined with grass. After birth completion, they are put in separate forms. These forms usually have tall grasses that can keep them obscure. At night, the mother hare comes to them, and they suckle from her.
During her absence, the young hares stay still and lie low to avoid discovery by predators. The leverets are able to look after themselves when they reach three weeks old, but it takes eight weeks to attain adulthood.
The female hare (Jill) can produce three to four litters yearly.
Hares are herbivorous animals. They feed strictly on plants (grass, vegetables, and flowers) and plants produce (fruits and seeds).
Grasslands, farms, and open countries are some of the choice habitats for hares. They also reside in shallow depressions made in the ground or simple nests on the ground.
Fortunately, hares are not extinct or in fear of being endangered.