Mountain hares live in Scotland and the North. They 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 heather, but when disturbed, can be seen bounding across the moors using their powerful hind legs to propel them forwards, often in a zigzag pattern. Mountain hares live in upland areas and are most common on heathland; they are at their most visible in spring, when the snow has melted but the hares are still white.
Mountain hares are grey-brown with a blue tinge in summer and turn white during the winter – only their ear tips stay black. The Irish hare may remain brown even in winter and its coat has a reddish tinge. Mountain hares are larger than rabbits, but smaller than brown hares and have shorter ears.
Average lifespan: 4 years
Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Found in the highlands of Scotland and in the Peak District.
When to see
Jan – Dec
Unlike the brown hare, which is thought to have been introduced by the Celts during the Iron Age, the mountain hare is native to Britain. However, it is only native to the Scottish Highlands and was translocated elsewhere.