Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares
are classified into the same family as rabbits. They are similar in
size and form to rabbits and eat the same diet. They are generally
herbivorous and long-eared, they are fast runners, and they typically
live solitarily or in pairs.
Hare species are native to Africa,
Eurasia, North America, and the Japanese archipelago.
Five leporid species with "hare" in their common names are not
considered true hares: the hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), and four
species known as red rock hares (comprising Pronolagus). Meanwhile,
jackrabbits are hares rather than rabbits.
A hare less than one year old is called a leveret. The collective noun
for a group of hares is a "drove".
1.1 Differences from rabbits
2 As food
3 Folklore and mythology
3.1 Famous hares in fiction
3.2 Famous hares in art
3.3 Three hares
4 Place names
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Hares are swift animals: The
European hare (Lepus europaeus) can run
up to 56 km/h (35 mph). The five species of
jackrabbits found in central and western
North America are able to run
at 64 km/h (40 mph), and can leap up to 3 m
(10 ft) at a time.
Normally a shy animal, the European brown hare changes its behavior in
spring, when hares can be seen in daytime chasing one another; this
appears to be competition between males to attain dominance (and hence
more access to breeding females). During this spring frenzy, hares can
be seen "boxing", one hare striking another with its paws (probably
the origin of the term "mad as a March hare"). For a long time, this
had been thought to be only intermale competition, but closer
observation has revealed it can also be a female hitting a male to
Differences from rabbits
Main article: Rabbit
Wild hare doe in city garden
Hares do not bear their young below ground in a burrow as do other
leporids, but rather in a shallow depression or flattened nest of
grass called a form. Young hares are adapted to the lack of physical
protection, relative to that afforded by a burrow, by being born fully
furred and with eyes open. They are hence precocial, and are able to
fend for themselves soon after birth. By contrast, the related rabbits
and cottontail rabbits are altricial, having young that are born blind
All rabbits (except the cottontail rabbits) live underground in
burrows or warrens, while hares (and cottontail rabbits) live in
simple nests above the ground, and usually do not live in groups.
Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer ears, and have
black markings on their fur. Hares have not been domesticated, while
rabbits are raised for food and kept as house pets. The domestic pet
known as the "Belgian Hare" is a rabbit that has been selectively bred
to resemble a hare.
Hares have jointed, or kinetic, skulls, unique among mammals. They
have 48 chromosomes while rabbits have 44.
The 32 species listed are:
Brooklyn Museum - California
Hare - John J. Audubon
Cape hare Lepus capensis
European hare (above) and mountain hare
Antelope jackrabbit, Lepus alleni
Snowshoe hare, Lepus americanus
Arctic hare, Lepus arcticus
Alaskan hare, Lepus othus
Mountain hare, Lepus timidus
Black-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
White-sided jackrabbit, Lepus callotis
Cape hare, Lepus capensis
Tehuantepec jackrabbit, Lepus flavigularis
Black jackrabbit, Lepus insularis
Scrub hare, Lepus saxatilis
Desert hare, Lepus tibetanus
Tolai hare, Lepus tolai
Broom hare, Lepus castroviejoi
Yunnan hare, Lepus comus
Korean hare, Lepus coreanus
Corsican hare, Lepus corsicanus
European hare, Lepus europaeus
Granada hare, Lepus granatensis
Manchurian hare, Lepus mandschuricus
Woolly hare, Lepus oiostolus
Ethiopian highland hare, Lepus starcki
White-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus townsendii
Ethiopian hare, Lepus fagani
African savanna hare, Lepus microtis
Hainan hare, Lepus hainanus
Indian hare, Lepus nigricollis
Burmese hare, Lepus peguensis
Chinese hare, Lepus sinensis
Yarkand hare, Lepus yarkandensis
Japanese hare, Lepus brachyurus
Abyssinian hare, Lepus habessinicus
Young Hare, a watercolour, 1502, by Albrecht Dürer
Hares and rabbits are plentiful in many areas, adapt to a wide variety
of conditions, and reproduce quickly, so hunting is often less
regulated than for other varieties of game. In rural areas of North
America and particularly in pioneer times, they were a common
source of meat. Because of their extremely low fat content, they are a
poor choice as a survival food.
Hares can be prepared in the same manner as rabbits — commonly
roasted or taken apart for breading and frying.
Hasenpfeffer (also spelled Hasenfeffer) is a traditional German stew
made from marinated rabbit or hare. Pfeffer is not only the name of a
spice, but also of a dish where the animal's blood is used as a
thickening agent for the sauce. Wine or vinegar is also a prominent
ingredient, to lend a sourness to the recipe.
Lagos Stifado (Λαγός στιφάδο) — hare stew with
pearl onions, vinegar, red wine and cinnamon — is a much-prized
dish enjoyed in Greece and Cyprus and communities in the diaspora,
particularly in Australia where the hare is hunted as a feral pest.
Jugged hare, known as civet de lièvre in France, is a whole hare, cut
into pieces, marinated, and cooked with red wine and juniper berries
in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water. It traditionally is
served with the hare's blood (or the blood is added right at the very
end of the cooking process) and port wine.
Jugged hare is described in the influential 18th-century cookbook, The
Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse, with a recipe titled, "A Jugged
Hare", that begins, "Cut it into little pieces, lard them here and
there ..." The recipe goes on to describe cooking the pieces of
hare in water in a jug set within a bath of boiling water to cook for
three hours. Beginning in the 19th century, Glasse has been widely
credited with having started the recipe with the words "First, catch
your hare," as in this citation. This attribution is apocryphal.
Having a freshly caught (or shot) hare enables one to obtain its
blood. A freshly killed hare is prepared for jugging by removing its
entrails and then hanging it in a larder by its hind legs, which
causes the blood to accumulate in the chest cavity. One method of
preserving the blood after draining it from the hare (since the hare
is usually hung for a week or more) is to mix it with red wine vinegar
to prevent coagulation, and then to store it in a freezer.
Many other British cookbooks from before the middle of the 20th
century have recipes for jugged hare. Merle and Reitch have this
to say about jugged hare, for example:
The best part of the hare, when roasted, is the loin and the thick
part of the hind leg; the other parts are only fit for stewing,
hashing, or jugging. It is usual to roast a hare first, and to stew or
jug the portion which is not eaten the first day. [...]
To Jug A Hare. This mode of cooking a hare is very desirable when
there is any doubt as to its age, as an old hare, which would be
otherwise uneatable, may be made into an agreeable dish. [...]
In 2006, a survey of 2021 people for the UKTV Food television channel
found only 1.6% of the people under 25 recognized jugged hare by name.
Seven of 10 stated they would refuse to eat jugged hare if it were
served at the house of a friend or a relative.
The hare (and in recent times, the rabbit) is a staple of Maltese
cuisine. The dish was presented to the island's Grandmasters of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as well as Renaissance Inquisitors
resident on the island, several of whom went on to become pope.
According to Jewish tradition, the hare is among mammals deemed not
kosher, and therefore not eaten by observant Jews. According to
Islamic dietary laws, Muslims deem coney meat (rabbit, pika, hyrax)
halal, and in Egypt, hare and rabbit are popular meats for mulukhiyah
(jute leaf soup), especially in Cairo. The Shia, though, have
difference in opinion.
In England, a now rarely served dish is potted hare. The hare meat is
cooked, then covered in at least one inch (preferably more) of butter.
The butter is a preservative (excludes air); the dish can be stored
for up to several months. It is served cold, often on bread or as an
Folklore and mythology
The hare in African folk tales is a trickster; some of the stories
about the hare were retold among African slaves in America, and are
the basis of the Br'er
Rabbit stories. The hare appears in English
folklore in the saying "as mad as a March hare" and in the legend of
Hare that alternatively tells of a witch who takes the form
of a white hare and goes out looking for prey at night or of the
spirit of a broken-hearted maiden who cannot rest and who haunts her
Many cultures, including the Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican, see a
hare in the pattern of dark patches in the moon (see
Moon rabbit). The
constellation Lepus is also taken to represent a hare.
The hare was once regarded as an animal sacred to Aphrodite and Eros
because of its high libido. Live hares were often presented as a gift
of love. Now the hare is commonly associated with the Anglo-Saxon
goddess Ēostre, and therefore pagan symbols like the Easter Bunny
have been appropriated into the
Christian tradition. However, no
primary sources support this belief, which seems to be a modern
In European tradition, the hare symbolises the two qualities of
swiftness and timidity. The latter once gave the European hare
the Linnaean name Lepus timidus that is now limited to the
Mountain hare. Several ancient fables depict the
Hare in flight; in
one concerning The Hares and the Frogs they even decide to commit mass
suicide until they come across a creature so timid that it is even
frightened of them. Conversely, in The Tortoise and the Hare, the
best-known among Aesop's Fables, the hare loses a race through being
too confident in its swiftness. In Irish folklore, the hare is often
associated with Sidh (Fairy) or other pagan elements. In these
stories, characters who harm hares often suffer dreadful consequences.
In June 2014, the
Pushkin House (the Institute of Russian Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences) hosted the international
conference, "The Philosophy of the Hare: Unexpected perspectives in
the research in the humanities". The conference organizers came up
with the idea as a retort to an earlier claim by Russia's Minister of
Vladimir Medinsky that humanities scholars were wasting
government money conducting research on incomprehensible topics with
names such as the one they chose.
Famous hares in fiction
Main article: List of fictional rabbits and hares
Famous hares in art
Main article: Rabbits and hares in art
Main article: Three hares
Dreihasenfenster (Window of Three Hares) in Paderborn Cathedral
A study in 2004 followed the history and migration of a symbolic image
of three hares with conjoined ears. In this image, three hares are
seen chasing each other in a circle with their heads near its centre.
While each of the animals appears to have two ears, only three ears
are depicted. The ears form a triangle at the centre of the circle and
each is shared by two of the hares. The image has been traced from
Christian churches in the English county of
Devon right back along the
Silk Road to China, via western and eastern Europe and the Middle
East. Before its appearance in China, it was possibly first depicted
in the Middle East before being reimported centuries later. Its use is
associated with Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist sites
stretching back to about 600 CE.
The hare has given rise to local place names, as they can often be
observed in favoured localities. An example in Scotland is
'Murchland', 'murchen' being a Scots word for a hare.
Rabbits and hares portal
Rabbits and hares in art
^ McKay, George; McGhee, Karen (10 October 2006). National Geographic
Encyclopedia of Animals. National Geographic Books. p. 68.
^ Vu, Alan. "Lepus europaeus: European hare".
Animal Diversity Web.
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 9 January
^ "Jackrabbits, Jackrabbit Pictures, Jackrabbit Facts - National
Geographic". Animals.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved
^ Holly, A.J.F. & Greenwood, P.J. (1984). "The myth of the mad
March hare". Nature. 309: 549–550.
^ Flux, J.E.C. (1987). "Myths and mad March hares". Nature. 325: 737.
^ Langley, Liz (19 December 2014). "What's the Difference Between
Rabbits and Hares?". National Geographic.
^ Pet Planet - Small Breed Profile - Belgian Hare
^ Hoffman, R.S.; Smith, A.T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson,
D.E.; Reeder, D.M.
Species of the World: A Taxonomic and
Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press.
pp. 195–205. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0.
^ Brock (2009-05-18). "Mormon Pioneer Foodways: Rabbit, anyone?".
Pioneerfoodie.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
^ Gary L. Benton. "Vitamins, Minerals, and Survival". Preparedness and
Self-Reliance. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
^ Tom Jaine. "A Glossery of Cookery and other Terms". The History of
English Cookery. Prospect Books.
^ a b "Chips are down for Britain's old culinary classics". The
Guardian. 2006-07-25. p. 6.
^ "Jugged". The Great British Kitchen. The British Food Trust.
^ "Recipes: Game: Jugged Hare". The Great British Kitchen. The British
^ Glasse, Hannah. The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. London,
1747. page 50
^ Bill Deans. "Hares, Brown, Blue or White". Archived from the
original on 2007-09-30.
^ John Seymour & Sally Seymour (September–October 1976).
"Farming for Self-Sufficiency Independence on a 5-acre
(20,000 m2) Farm". Mother Earth News (41). Archived from the
original on 2006-09-01.
^ Gibbons Merle & John Reitch (1842). The domestic dictionary and
housekeeper's manual. London: William Strange. p. 113.
^ "Hannah Glasse's Jugged Hare". Retrieved 2017-10-30.
Rabbit Molokhia". SBS Food.
^ "The White Hare". Folk-this.tripod.com. 1969-05-13. Retrieved
^ "Legends of Britain: The White Hare". Britannia.com. Retrieved
^ John Layard, The Lady of the Hare, "The
Hare in Classical
Antiquity", pp.208 - 21
^ Hunt-Anschütz, A. Æ. (2006). "Eostre and Easter Customs".
Association of Polytheist Traditions.
^ As fast as a hare
^ Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Cambridge
University 2014, p.32
^ The Popular Encyclopaedia 3.2., Glasgow 1836, p.634
^ "Философия зайца": неожиданные
исследований" ("The Philosophy of the Hare: Unexpected
perspectives in the research in the humanities")
^ Chris Chapman (2004). "The three hares project". Retrieved
^ Warrack, Alexander, ed. (1984). Chambers Scots dictionary.
Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers. ISBN 9780550118011.
Windling, Terri. The Symbolism of Rabbits and Hares.
William George Black, F.S.A.Scot. "The
Hare in Folk-lore" The
Folk-Lore Journal. Volume 1, 1883.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lepus.
Look up hare in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
BBC Nature section about hares
Picture series of an aged hare whose fur has turned gray
Family Ochotonidae (Pikas)
Alpine pika (O. alpina)
Helan Shan pika (O. argentata)
Collared pika (O. collaris)
Hoffmann's pika (O. hoffmanni)
Northern pika (O. hyperborea)
Pallas's pika (O. pallasi)
American pika (O. princeps)
Turuchan pika (O. turuchanensis)
Gansu pika (O. cansus)
Plateau pika (O. curzoniae)
Daurian pika (O. dauurica)
Tsing-ling pika (O. huangensis)
Nubra pika (O. nubrica)
Steppe pika (O. pusilla)
Afghan pika (O. rufescens)
Moupin pika (O. thibetana)
Thomas's pika (O. thomasi)
Chinese red pika
Chinese red pika (O. erythrotis)
Forrest's pika (O. forresti)
Gaoligong pika (O. gaoligongensis)
Glover's pika (O. gloveri)
Himalayan pika (O. himalayana)
Ili pika (O. iliensis)
Koslov's pika (O. koslowi)
Ladak pika (O. ladacensis)
Large-eared pika (O. macrotis)
Muli pika (O. muliensis)
Black pika (O. nigritia)
Royle's pika (O. roylei)
Turkestan red pika
Turkestan red pika (O. rutila)
Leporidae (Rabbits and Hares)
Amami rabbit (P. furnessi)
Riverine rabbit (B. monticularis)
Sumatran striped rabbit
Sumatran striped rabbit (N. netscheri)
Annamite striped rabbit
Annamite striped rabbit (N. timminsi)
Volcano rabbit (R. diazi)
Pygmy rabbit (B. idahoensis)
Swamp rabbit (S. aquaticus)
Tapeti (S. brasiliensis)
Dice's cottontail (S. dicei)
Omilteme cottontail (S. insonus)
Marsh rabbit (S. palustris)
Venezuelan lowland rabbit
Venezuelan lowland rabbit (S. varynaensis)
Desert cottontail (S. audubonii)
Manzano mountain cottontail
Manzano mountain cottontail (S. cognatus)
Mexican cottontail (S. cunicularis)
Eastern cottontail (S. floridanus)
Tres Marias rabbit
Tres Marias rabbit (S. graysoni)
Mountain cottontail (S. nuttallii)
Appalachian cottontail (S. obscurus)
Robust cottontail (S. robustus)
New England cottontail
New England cottontail (S. transitionalis)
Brush rabbit (S. bachmani)
San José brush rabbit
San José brush rabbit (S. mansuetus)
European rabbit (O. cuniculus)
Bunyoro rabbit (P. marjorita)
(Red rock hares)
Natal red rock hare
Natal red rock hare (P. crassicaudatus)
Jameson's red rock hare
Jameson's red rock hare (P. randensis)
Smith's red rock hare
Smith's red rock hare (P. rupestris)
Hewitt's red rock hare
Hewitt's red rock hare (P. saundersiae)
Hispid hare (C. hispidus)
Antelope jackrabbit (L. alleni)
Snowshoe hare (L. americanus)
Arctic hare (L. arcticus)
Alaskan hare (L. othus)
Mountain hare (L. timidus)
Black-tailed jackrabbit (L. californicus)
White-sided jackrabbit (L. callotis)
Cape hare (L. capensis)
Tehuantepec jackrabbit (L. flavigularis)
Black jackrabbit (L. insularis)
Scrub hare (L. saxatilis)
Desert hare (L. tibetanus)
Tolai hare (L. tolai)
Broom hare (L. castrovieoi)
Yunnan hare (L. comus)
Korean hare (L. coreanus)
Corsican hare (L. corsicanus)
European hare (L. europaeus)
Granada hare (L. granatensis)
Manchurian hare (L. mandschuricus)
Woolly hare (L. oiostolus)
Ethiopian highland hare
Ethiopian highland hare (L. starcki)
White-tailed jackrabbit (L. townsendii)
Ethiopian hare (L. fagani)
African savanna hare
African savanna hare (L. microtis)
Hainan hare (L. hainanus)
Indian hare (L. nigricollis)
Burmese hare (L. peguensis)
Chinese hare (L. sinensis)
Yarkand hare (L. yarkandensis)
Subgenus incertae sedis:
Japanese hare (L. brachyurus)
Abyssinian hare (L. habessinicus)
Fauna Europaea: 213654