The brown hare is a larger, more athletic relative of the rabbit. It is able to adapt to a variety of habitats and so is one of the most widely distributed land animals in the world.

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Breeding

Hares can breed at any time of year, but the main season is between January and October, with most young born between March and September. Spring is the main mating season and this is when 'mad March hares' may be seen, sometimes a whole field of them, dashing about in a demented fashion, leaping in the air, chasing and 'boxing' with each other. The jacks (males) do most of the boxing, either with each other in a struggle for social dominance, or with jills (females) as a prelude to mating. The female tries to defend herself by boxing with the male who can be quite aggressive. He will mate with several females.

After a gestation period (time between mating and birth) of 42 - 44 days, two or three leverets (young hares) are born in a grass-lined nest within a form. Young rabbits are born blind, naked and helpless, but baby hares are born fully furred and with their eyes open. After birth, the mother puts each leveret in its own form, usually in long grass, and visits them once every night, to suckle them. While she is away, the leverets lie low and still, to avoid detection by predators. When the mother is approaching she gives them a low call and their answering calls help her to find them.

The young are independent when about three weeks old but take eight months to reach their adult weight. A female may produce three or four litters a year.

Read More: Food and Feeding

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