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European Hare

European Hare Facts

Size 19-29.5 in (48-75 cm) (body); 2.7-5 in (7-13 cm) (tail)
Speed 43 mph (70 km/h) (short distances)
Weight 5.5-15.4 lb (2.5-7 kg)
Lifespan Up to 12 years
Food Grass, herbs, grain
Predators Foxes, snakes, birds of prey
Habitat Europe, Asia
Order Lagomorpha
Family Leporidae
Genus Lepus
Scientific name Lepus europaeus
Characteristics Long hind legs and ears

Main Characteristics

The European hare is one of the largest rabbits worldwide. It is a twilight-active and nocturnal animal, but also diurnal in springtime. They have triangular black fur markings at the tips of their long ears.

European hare Photo: Richard Guijt Photography/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance

Big-Footed European Hare

The hind legs of European hares are extremely strong and can be up to 5.5-6.2 inch (14-16 cm) long. This would be similar to an adult human being with feet measuring 15.7-23.6 inch (40-60 cm).


European Hare Photo: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities

How Fast Is the European Hare?

The European hare does not have sharp claws or teeth it could use to defend itself against foxes or birds of prey. It can only try to make an escape – the faster the better, of course. But before starting to run the hare lies down flat on the ground when in danger. Perhaps the enemy might miss it then? Only at the last second, the hare makes a dash – at impressive 43.4 mph (70 km/h)!

European Hare Photo: Matthijs Wetterauw/Shutterstock


Why Do European Hare Fight Each Other?

If you are lucky you can watch European hares staging boxing matches in springtime. For this they stand on their hind legs and hit each other with their front paws. As if they would compete in a boxing ring.

But there is no referee and the animals often end up with bleeding scratches. In the past, people thought two males would fight for a lady hare, but the fights actually involve one male and one female hare. If the male hare wins and also beats the lady in a foot race, she accepts the male hare as a mating partner.


Enemies and Threats

Is the European Hare Endangered?

In Germany, the European hare is already listed as a vulnerable species. In Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt it is even listed as cricitally endangered. The main reason is that grain fields take up more and more space and thus reduce the living environment of the hare. If you consider Europe as a whole, the hare is not yet endangered.

European Hare Photo: Neil Burton/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

The European Hare is Featured on a Famous Painting

In the year 1502, the famous German painter Albrecht Dürer created a watercolor of a European hare. It is one of his most popular works of art.

The European Hare Is Related To:

  • African Savanna Hare
  • Black-Tailed Jackrabbit
  • Mountain Hare
  • Scrub Hare
  • Snowshoe Hare
  • White-Tailed Jackrabbit

Animals in the Same Biome:

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