Brown hare Lepus europaeus

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. The brown hare is most commonly seen in grassland and at woodland edges. Brown hares are at their most visible in early spring when 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

January – December


  • 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.
  • Brown hares can run at speeds up to 45mph to escape predators

Common name

Brown hare

Species name

Lepus europaeus

IUCN Red List status

Least Concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Cullaloe or Horselaw Loch & Din Moss.

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list Subscribe now

Back to top