The natural distribution of European hares includes Great Britain and western Europe, east to through the Middle East to Central Asia (Lincoln, 1974; Broekhuizen and Maaskamp, 1980; Caillol and Meunier, 1989; Poli et al., 1991). They have been introduced by humans to several other continents. In Canada, (Bonino and Montenegro, 1997; Broekhuizen and Maaskamp, 1980; Caillol, et al., 1988; Hall and Kelson, 1959; Lincoln, 1974; Poli, et al., 1991)is found in southern Ontario, around the Great Lakes, and south of the Canadian Shield. It has failed to spread further north. In the United States, European hares are now found in the north-eastern states and around the Great Lakes (Hall and Kelson, 1959). They have also been introduced to areas of South and Central America (Bonino and Montenegro, 1997) and Australia.
European hares prefer open fields and pastures bordered by hedgerows and woodlots, often around agriculture fields and crops. They live in shallow forms; clumps of grass, weeds, or bush (Peterson, 1966; Bansfield, 1974; William and Whitaker, 1943). (Bansfield, 1974; Hamilton and Whitaker, 1943; Peterson, 1966)
Total length: 600-750 (average 680) mm; Ear length, from notch: 94-102 (av. 98) mm; Tail: 72-110 (av. 95) mm; Hind foot: 142-161 (av. 151) mm; Skull length: 96-104 (av. 100) mm; Skull width: 44-51 (av. 47.3) mm (Peterson, 1966; Hall and Kelson, 1959). They have long ears with black tips and which are greyish white inside. The pelage is yellowish-brown to greyish-brown, with a greyish-white underbody. The face is brown, with eye rings. The tail is black on the top and white on the bottom. In winter, (Bansfield, 1974; Dragg, 1974; Hall and Kelson, 1959; Peterson, 1966)doesn't change its pelage to white, but does become slightly more grey (Peterson, 1966; Bansfields, 1974; Dragg, 1974). There is no noted sexual dimorphism. The skull features short, broad, heavy nasal bones, and prominent anterior and posterior lobes of the supraorbital processes. It also often has a prominent subcutaneous process of the lacrimal bone, projecting from the anterior wall of the orbit (Bansfield, 1974).
Leverets are precocial at birth, with long and silky fur (Peterson, 1966). To protect leverets, the mother disperses them over a moderately wide area to avoid predation on the whole litter. The mother then makes the rounds to nurse them (Bansfield, 1974). (Bansfield, 1974; Peterson, 1966)
European hares are mainly solitary animals except during mating season. They are crepuscular and nocturnal, mostly foraging at night (between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.). European hares remain active all year round. During the day they crouch in a depression called a 'form', partially concealed with their back showing (Bansfield, 1974). European hares posess an excellent sense of sight, smell, and hearing. Upon detection of a predator, European hares will run to escape, and can dodge and change direction quickly if needed. They are very fast and have been clocked at up to 35 mph (about 60 kph) running in a straight line. They will also dive into streams if needed as they are decent swimmers (William and Whitaker; Bansfield, 1974). (Bansfield, 1974; Hamilton and Whitaker, 1943)
European hares are usually quiet animals. They make low grunts from time to time and "guttural" calls from the doe (female) to her leverets. It has been suggested that European hares grind their teeth as an alarm call. They also emit a shrill call when hurt or caught (Peterson, 1966; Bansfield, 1974). (Bansfield, 1974; Peterson, 1966)
European hares are herbivorous, eating grasses, herbs, and field crops during summer. During winter European hares feed on twigs, buds, shrub bark, small trees, and young fruit tree bark. They also commonly re-ingest their green, soft fecal pellets. This is known as coprophagia. Two or three adult (Bansfield, 1974; Hamilton and Whitaker, 1943; Peterson, 1966)can eat as much vegetation as one sheep (Banfield, 1974; William and Whitaker, 1943; Peterson, 1966).
Known predators include red foxes, wolves, coyotes (in their introduced range in North America), wild cats, larger hawks, and owls (Bansfield, 1974). (Bansfield, 1974)
European hares have become an important and challenging game animal, especially in North America. The meat is said to be white and delicious (William and Whitaker, 1943; Bansfield, 1974). (Bansfield, 1974; Hamilton and Whitaker, 1943)
European hares are widespread throughout Europe, where they are called common hares. European hares have done well in North America, with population numbers quickly rising to the current density. In Ontario population density has been as high as 100 per square mile, and has leveled to about 25 per square mile (Bansfield, 1974; Dragg, 1974). In recent decades there have been outbreaks of increased mortality due to disease, particularly in Europe. This syndrome includes acute hepatosis, enteritis, nephrosis, general jaundice, congestion, and hemorrhage of internal organs, and has been called European Brown Hare Syndrome (Poli et al., 1991). (Bansfield, 1974; Dragg, 1974; Poli, et al., 1991)
Alan Vu (author), University of Toronto.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
an animal that mainly eats the dung of other animals
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
young are relatively well-developed when born
Bansfield, A. 1974. Mammals of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Bonino, N., A. Montenegro. 1997. Reproduction of the European hare in Pantagonia, Argentina. Acta Theriologica, 42(1): 47-54.
Broekhuizen, S., F. Maaskamp. 1980. Behaviour of does and leverets of the European hare (Lepus europaeus) whilst nursing. J. Zool. Lond., 191: 487-501.
Caillol, M., M. Meunier, M. Mondain-Monval, P. Simon. 1988. Seasonal variations in testis size, testosterone and LH basal levels, and pituitary response to luteinizing hormone releasing hormone in the brown hare, Lepus europaeus. Can. J. Zool., 67: 1626-1630.
Dragg, A. 1974. Mammals of Ontario. Waterloo, Ontario: Otter Press.
Hall, E., K. Kelson. 1959. Mammals of North America. New York: The Ronald Press Co..
Hamilton, W., J. Whitaker. 1943. Mammals of the Eastern United States. 2nd ed. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.
Lincoln, G. 1974. Reproduction and March madness in the Brown hare, Lepus europaeus. J. Zool. Lond., 174: 1-14.
Peterson, R. 1966. The Mammals of Eastern Canada. Oxford University Press.
Poli, A., M. Nigro, D. Gallazi, G. Sironi, A. Lavazza. 1991. Acute hepatosis in the european brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in Italy. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 27(4): 621-629.