Brown hares graze on vegetation and nibble bark from young trees and bushes. Hares shelter in a ‘form’, which is simply a shallow depression in the ground or grasses, but when disturbed, can be seen bounding across fields using their powerful hind legs to propel them forwards, often in a zigzag pattern. They are commonest in grassland and at woodland edges. In early spring, brown hares are at their most visible as the breeding season encourages fighting or ‘boxing’.
Hares are a golden-brown colour, with a pale belly and a white tail. The brown hare is larger than the rabbit, with longer legs and longer ears with black tips.
Length: 70cm Weight: 4kg Average lifespan: 4 years
Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Widespread throughout Scotland, largely replaced by mountain hares in upland areas.
When to see
Jan – Dec
If you spot brown hares ‘boxing’ in the fields, it is most likely that you are watching a female warding off the advances of an amorous male, not two males fighting. If a fight does happen, the two hares will stand on their hind legs and attack each other with their front paws, pulling out fur. This gives the impression of two boxers in a ring.