Scientific name: Lepus europaeus
The brown hare is known for its long, black-tipped ears and fast running - it can reach speeds of 45mph when evading predators. It prefers a mosaic of farmland and woodland habitats and can often be spotted in fields.
Average lifespan: 2-4 years
Introduced, but naturalised species. Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutThought to have been introduced into the UK in Roman times (or even earlier), the brown hare is now considered naturalised. It is most common in grassland habitats and at woodland edges, favouring a mosaic of arable fields, grasses and hedgerows. It grazes on vegetation and the bark of young trees and bushes. Brown hares do not dig burrows, but shelter in 'forms', which are shallow depressions in the ground or grass; when disturbed, they can be seen bounding across the fields, using their powerful hind legs to propel them forwards, often in a zigzag pattern. Brown hares are at their most visible in early spring when the breeding season encourages fighting or 'boxing'. Females can produce three to four litters of two to four young (known as leverets) a year.
How to identifyThe brown hare is golden-brown, with a pale belly and a white tail. It is larger than the rabbit, with longer legs and longer ears with distinctive black tips.
In our area
The brown hare is a relatively common sight on the Isle of Man. Often found in hay fields and cattle grazed meadows, its long loping gait and tall ears with their distinctive black tips easily marking them out from the more common rabbits.