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24 September 2014

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Mammal of the month
March hare
March hare - photo courtesy of BBC Wildfacts
They're like the thugs of the mammal world. Gangly, awkward and always looking for a fight, the brown hare fully deserves its reputation of Mad March Hare!
  see also  
  Planet Cambridgeshire

BBC Life of Mammals
BBC Wildfacts
  internet links  
  The Mammal Society

The Wildlife Trusts

UK Biodiversity - the brown hare

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Mad March hares!

How will I know if I'm looking at a hare?
Hares belong to the same family as rabbits - lagomorphs - but they are much swifter than rabbits, as their limbs are much longer.

Boxing hares - courtesy of BBC Wildfacts
Face off - a hairy moment for a hare

Hares are generally between 48cm and 70cm in length and weigh about 3-5kg.

Brown hares are larger than rabbits, with longer limbs, and a loping gait. They have black-tipped ears that are equal in length to their head. The tail is held down when running, showing its black dorsal surface. The fur moults in spring and autumn, the summer coat being a little lighter than the hare's reddish winter coat.

Hares a few jokes for you!
Bad joke 1
Q: What do you call a row of rabbits walking backwards?
A: A receding hare-line!!!

Bad joke 2
Two mates are at a pub having a beer when the bald one starts complaining about being bald. His friend says he should have a hair transplant operation. The bald guy says he cant afford it, so his mate says he should go and have some rabbits tattooed on his head. The bald guy says: "how will that help?" His mate says: "well, from a distance they will look like hares." (hairs - get it??) Tee hee!

Where should I look for hares?
Brown hares are widespread in central and western Europe, including England and Wales, but they are absent from north western Scotland, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands and most of Spain and Portugal. It is thought that they were introduced into Britain during Roman times, probably from Asia. They were introduced to Ireland for sport in the 19th century and their spread has been checked by competition from the Irish hare (a subspecies of mountain hare).

Brown hares prefer temperate open habitats. They are found in most flat country among open grassland and arable farms, and can live up to 1500m in the Pyrenees. They use woodland and hedgerows as resting areas in the day.

The best times to spot a hare are early morning and just around dusk.

What do they like to eat?
Brown hares feed mainly on herbs in the summer, and predominantly grasses in the winter. They also feed on cereal and root crops, and in bad seasons, it has been suggested that they may eat animal corpses.

What are their habits?
Brown hares rest in a shallow depression in fields or long grass known as a form, where only their back and head are visible.

An adult occupies a range of 300 hectares, which it may share with other hares as they are not territorially aggressive. Courtship involves boxing - the traditional 'mad March hare' behaviour. This is actually unreceptive females fending off males, rather than fighting between males. Brown hares escape predators by out-running them - at speeds up to 40mph! Brown hares are the fastest land animals in the UK.

Females can have up to 3 litters a year, and on average, give birth to four young (known as leverets).

Hare facts courtesy of BBC Wildfacts

Cambridgeshire Mammal Atlas - help us to track the mammals in our county >>

You can find out more about Britain's mammals at BBC Wildfacts or BBC Life of Mammals or The Mammal Society.

February is...fantastic Mr Fox month >>

January is... rat and vole month

December is.... deer month

November is.... hedgehog month

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