Brown hare

Latin name: Lepus europaeusalt

Size: Length 48 - 70cm

Where: Stoneymollan; between Gartocharn and Balloch in the pasture fields; Balmaha Marshes NNR in winter

When: All year round, but easier to see in spring, and at dawn and dusk

Some people find it hard to distinguish between a brown hare and a rabbit. Think of it as the difference between a Ferrari and a family saloon and you won’t go far wrong. Hares are bigger, longer, sleeker and much faster than rabbits – reaching speeds of up to 30mph if disturbed or threatened. If you get a closer look you will see that their ears and tails are tipped with black, a smart and racy contrast to their tawny red-brown fur.

You are most likely to see a hare in rough grassland or arable fields at dawn or dusk when they venture out to feed. They are shy creatures and hunker down in shallow dips or ‘forms’ during the day to hide from predators like golden eagles.

In spring thay lose some of their shyness in their eagerness to find a mate, so it’s a good time to look out for them. If you see a pair ‘boxing’ it is likely to be a female telling a male in no uncertain terms that she is not yet ready to receive his advances!

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods