The mountain hare is also known by names such as tundra hare, variable hare, white hare, snow hare, and alpine hare. Mountain hares are also known as Irish hares too. Mountain hares are accustomed to mountains and polar climates and as a result, they are Palaearctic in nature. The Palaearctic is the largest biographic realm in the world. It covers the entirety of Eurasia (which includes England, Scotland, and Ireland), and also North Africa and the Himalayan foothills. Mountain hares can actually be seen in Irish and Scottish terrains all year round!
Although the animal looks like a rabbit, they are not the same. The ears of a bunny or rabbit are longer than the ears of a mountain hare, who has shorter ears. Mountain hares are also larger in size than rabbits. Although they may be both brown or white in color, mountain hares often have black marks on their brown or white fur. They dwell around pastures, salt marshes, and coastal grasslands. Apart from the main habitats of a mountain hare, they have also been introduced to areas like the Shetland Islands in Scotland, Orkney, Iceland, Ireland, the Peak District, the Isle of Man, Svalbard, the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, and the Faroe Islands. The animal can be even be seen at an elevation of 0.4-2.4 miles (700-3800 m) in the Alps. To find out more about mountain hares, read on!
What do they prey on?
Grass, twigs, and barks
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
5.5-7.7 lb (2.5-3.5 kg)
How long are they?
17.7-25.5 in (45-65 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Brown and white
What are their main threats?
Humans and climate change
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Mountains, coastal grasslands, lowland pastures, and salt marshes
From Siberia to Fennoscandia, the Alps, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, the Baltics, and Hokkaido
Mountain Hare Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a mountain hare?
The mountain hare is a type of hare.
What class of animal does a mountain hare belong to?
Mountain hares belong to the class Mammalia.
How many mountain hares are there in the world?
Although the exact population of mountain hares in the world is not known, studies show that approximately 350,000 mountain hares or brown hares live in the United Kingdom.
Where does a mountain hare live?
The mountain hare, also known as the blue hare, typically lives in the mountains. But it can also be found in salt marshes, lowland pastures, and coastal grasslands.
What is a mountain hare's habitat?
Mountain hares can be found ranging from Siberia to Fennoscandia. Besides these places, the mountain hare also resides in parts of the Scottish Islands, Ireland, Scotland, and England. The mountain hare can also be seen in the Alps, the Baltics, Poland, and the Peak District as well as Hokkaido.
Who do mountain hares live with?
The mountain hare, Lepus timidus, is known to live in solitude throughout its life. However, exceptions to this can be seen in the arctic region, where mountain hares form groups to avoid any harm from predators.
How long does a mountain hare live?
The mountain hare, Lepus timidus, lives for up to 12 years.
How do they reproduce?
The breeding season begins in January each year for mountain hares. During this breeding season, the males attain sexual maturity before females do and female mountain hares gestate for a period of 50 days. As a result, the birthing season occurs between the months of March and July every year. Young males and females cannot participate in the breeding season in their own birth year. The females produce between one and four litters each, each consisting of one to three young in a litter. It is known that bigger females are capable of breeding earlier than smaller female mountain hares. During the breeding season, mountain hare males often run after one particular female. This chosen female can then decline or challenge the males through boxing and fighting.
What is their conservation status?
A 10-year fluctuation rate is normal when it comes to the mountain hare or Irish hare. Apart from this, we know little about the exact population of mountain hares. It is known that the Scottish moors, which were once abundant with mountain hares, now lack a large population of mountain hares. The population of mountain hares is likely in decline due to deforestation as the population decreases when there are no canopies or vegetation available for them. However, despite this, a large enough population of mountain hares keeps their conservation status as Least Concern. This means that they are far from extinction and are not endangered. It is worth noting that mountain hares are often seen as a target for hunting. The hunting of mountain hares has become more commercialized recently and this is having a negative effect on the population of the species.
Mountain Hare Fun Facts
What do mountain hares look like?
During summer, the mountain hare flaunts a greyish white fur. This turns white in color in winter due to a lack of melanin pigment in their skin. Their hair also has a bluish hue. For some hares, the color of their fur remains unchanged in winter. Their tails are white and ears have a black tip throughout the year.
How cute are they?
Mountain hares are very cute as they are mostly brown and sometimes white in color, with short ears. Their white coloration comes from their winter coat and is really beautiful!
How do they communicate?
The main form of communication for mountain hares uses both smell and sound. However, they also emit humming vocal sounds to communicate with each other.
How big is a mountain hare?
With an average length of 17.7-25.5 in (45-65 cm), the mountain hare is bigger than a bunny. A mountain hare also has ears that are longer than those of a bunny.
How fast can a mountain hare run?
The mountain hare can reach high speeds when running. In fact, mountain hares can hit a speed of 45 miles per hour whilst running. It uses these high speeds to save itself from falling prey to other animals.
How much does a mountain hare weigh?
The mountain hare weighs approximately 5.5-7.7 lb (2.5-3.5 kg). In this species of hares, the female mountain hares outweigh the male mountain hares. Also, species from a northern habitat tend to be heavier than those from a southern habitat.
What are their male and female names of the species?
A female hare is called a jill, while a male hare is called a jack.
What would you call a baby mountain hare?
A young mountain hare is called a leveret.
What do they eat?
What a mountain hare eats depends on the habitat of the specific mountain hare. Their diet is also dependent on the season. Mountain hares living in forests feed on twigs and leaves during the summer. On the other hand, the mountain hares that live in the tundra feed on alpine plants. Mountain hares also eat lichen and grass. As the weather turns colder in winter, entire areas are covered in snow, leaving little for the mountain hares to feed on. Therefore, their diet changes to mostly heather during winter.
Are they aggressive?
Mountain hares are generally not aggressive, but like any other animal, they may bite when threatened. In general, mountain hares are docile.
Would they make a good pet?
No, although they have a polite and docile nature, mountain hares, young and old, belong (and thrive) in their natural habitats.
Did you know...
The color of a mountain hare's coat remains brown-grey in summer, but it turns white in winter. Oddly, the tail remains white all year round and not just in winter. Similarly, the tips of the ears of a mountain hare are always black, even if it is not summer. The color change of the coat takes place through a process called molting. Through this process, the new winter color replaces the old summer coat. The molting process takes place three times a year for every mountain hare, during the months of November, March, and May. Their color changes to white in fall because it is at this time that the days start getting shorter, and consequently there is less sunlight. This lack of daylight triggers the change in color in the hares' coats.
The retina of the mountain hare includes melanopsin which is sensitive to light and triggers the production of the melanin pigment in the fur of the animal. In summers, owing to abundant sunlight, there is enough melanin pigment for the fur to be brown-grey in color. However, during winters the amount of sunlight decreases, causing a lack of melanin pigment.
What ecosystems do mountain hares live in?
Mountain hares mainly live in boreal forests which are spread across their habitation. Mountain grassland, tundra, moorland, and dry rocky slopes are all areas where they can be found. Mountain hares can also be found on pastures and arable lowlands.
Are mountain hares nocturnal?
Yes, mountain hares are known to be nocturnal creatures. They are generally idle during the day and come out of their dwellings at night to hunt and eat. This is how they operate all year round.
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