european nature gallery


Saturday, 20 July 2019

European hare

The European hare, like other members of the family Leporidae, is a fast-running terrestrial mammal; it has eyes set high on the sides of its head, long ears and a flexible neck. Its teeth grow continuously, the first incisorsbeing modified for gnawing while the second incisors are peg-like and non-functional. There is a gap (diastema) between the incisors and the cheek teeth, the latter being adapted for grinding coarse plant material. The dark limb musculature of hares is adapted for high-speed endurance running in open country. By contrast, cottontail rabbits are built for short bursts of speed in more vegetated habitats. Other adaptions for high speed running in hares include wider nostrils and larger hearts. In comparison to the European rabbit, the hare has a proportionally smaller stomach and caecum.
This hare is one of the largest of the lagomorphs. Its head and body length can range from 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) with a tail length of 7.2 to 11 cm (2.8 to 4.3 in). The body mass is typically between 3 and 5 kg (6.6 and 11.0 lb). The hare's elongated ears range from 9.4 to 11.0 cm (3.7 to 4.3 in) from the notch to tip. It also has long hind feet that have a length of between 14 and 16 cm (5.5 and 6.3 in). The skull has nasal bones that are short, but broad and heavy. The supraorbital ridge has well-developed anterior and posterior lobes and the lacrimal bone projects prominently from the anterior wall of the orbit.
The fur colour is grizzled yellow-brown on the back; rufous on the shoulders, legs, neck and throat; white on the underside and black on the tail and ear tips. The fur on the back is typically longer and more curled than on the rest of the body. The European hare's fur does not turn completely white in the winter as is the case with some other members of the genus, although the sides of the head and base of the ears do develop white areas and the hip and rump region may gain some grey.
Hares are primarily nocturnal and spend a third of their time foraging.During daytime, a hare hides in a depression in the ground called a "form" where it is partially hidden. Hares can run at 70 km/h (43 mph) and when confronted by predators they rely on outrunning them in the open. They are generally thought of as asocial but can be seen in both large and small groups. They do not appear to be territorial, living in shared home ranges of around 300 ha (740 acres). Hares communicate with each other by a variety of visual signals. To show interest they raise their ears, while lowering the ears warns others to keep away. When challenging a conspecific, a hare thumps its front feet; the hind feet are used to warn others of a predator. A hare squeals when hurt or scared and a female makes "guttural" calls to attract her young. Hares can live for as long as twelve years.

 (latin: Lepus europaeus)

Saturday, 20 July 2019