European hare

Lepus europaeus

TAXONOMY

Lepus europaeus Pallas, 1778, southwest Poland. Thirty subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Brown hare; French: Lièvre brun; German: Feldhase; Spanish: Liebre común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 20-27 in (52-68 cm), tail 3-5 in (8-12 cm), body weight 5.5-14 lb (2,500-6,000 g). A large hare that is brown throughout the year with long ears, relatively long tail, and long limbs.

DISTRIBUTION

Most of Europe, south to Iran, and into western Siberia. Introduced in eastern North America, southern South America, southeastern Australia, New Zealand, and several islands.

HABITAT

Open country as mixed farmland, moorland, steppe, but also open woodland. In introduced areas habitats can be variable, including pampas, sand dunes, marshes, and alpine grassland.

BEHAVIOR

Solitary, but may aggregate in groups when feeding; males fight around females in estrous.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Diet varies with mostly grass in the summer and can include shrubs in the winter, but on agricultural land crops dominates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males and females are promiscuous. Females give birth to two to four litters per year with a mean litter size of one to four.

CONSERVATION STATUS Common; not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Important game species that may damage crops. ♦

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