The Elusive Irish Hare

The Irish hare is one of our most widespread wild mammals, present from sea shore to mountain top and familiar on bogs as well as on farmland. It is Ireland’s only native lagomorph (a group which includes all hare and rabbit species) The Irish hare is a sub-species of Lepus timidus. This species has a widespread distribution across the northern hemisphere, from Ireland to the Pacific Ocean. One of the main differences between the Irish hare and other sub-species of Lepus timidus is that the former does not turn white in winter. Hares live above ground and have developed particular strategies to cope with such a life style. Leverets (young hares) are born fully furred with open eyes and are capable of moving about soon after birth. The gestation period of the Irish hare is about 50 days. Hares have highly developed senses of hearing and smell and their vision is good, particularly for moving objects. They are therefore well adapted for predator detection. Once discovered, the hare has two main strategies for avoiding predators – fight and concealment. Their long powerful hind limbs allow them to outrun most predators.