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Species Spied: Brown hare

Overview

Species: Brown hare

Brown hare camera trapScientific Name: Lepus europaeus

Family: Leporidae (rabbits and hares)

Brown hares used to be a common sight in Britain, but they are now in steady decline due to changes in land use and persecution. Populations can be highly localised.

NatureSpy has been lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of these shy mammals on our camera traps.

Click on the tabs to find out more and to see NatureSpy photos and videos of this species.

Identification & behaviour

How to identify

You can tell hares apart from the very common rabbit by the black tips on their ears and their general larger size.  They also tend to run rather than hop, so you will not see a white tail flash as you would with a rabbit. If you ever get a close up of their eyes, brown hares have a golden iris whereas rabbits have a brown iris.

Behaviours you may see

Hares are famous for the ‘boxing’ that takes place in spring, which is actually most often females fending off the advances of over-zealous males. NatureSpy hasn't caught this behaviour yet but we have caught what appears to be dancing — watch it here.

Camera trap tips

Where to find brown hares

Brown hare are found over most of the UK but you won't find them in the western highlands of Scotland; instead you will find a different species called the mountain hare (Lepus timidus).

As herbivores (plant eaters) they mainly eat grasses and herbs and are most often found on agricultural grassland, though NatureSpy's camera traps has found them in forest plantations too!

You cannot use warrens to find hares as you would with rabbits. Instead of warrens they live above ground and hide in shallow depressions called ‘forms’.

Settings & timers

Hares are seen all year round; we even captured one out on Christmas Day! Hares are most active during the night (nocturnal) so make sure your camera trap is set to come on at this time, but you may be lucky enough to see them during the day.

Brown hare are highly unpredictable for camera trapping, and so its difficult to choose the best spot. Field boundaries and gaps in hedgerows or fencelines are good places to try.

They are the fastest land mammal in the UK, capable of speeds up to 45mph (compared to 57mph of a cheetah). They use their speed to escape predators but it means your camera trap must be quick to catch them — watch it here.

Following trails...

Hare tracks (spoor) show parallel imprints from their hind paws with two imprints from their front paws in between.

Their droppings (scat) are similar to rabbit's clusters of spherical droppings, but are larger and more flattened (1-2cm across).

Photos

Brown hare camera trap photos


Videos

Brown hare camera trap videos

References and more information:

Brown hare – The Mammal Society