Brown hares are believed to have been introduced into the UK during Roman times and are now widespread across the country. Unlike their mountain-dwelling cousins, these hares roam across the countryside, searching for food and to breed.
These hares have very large ears and long legs, and can run incredibly quickly. They do not change colour in the winter, remaining brown all year.
Boxing, which is when a female tests the strength and determination of a suitable male, can be seen throughout the year, though most action occurs during the spring months.
Irish hares, like the brown variety, were introduced to parts of the UK for hunting. These ginger-coloured hares also remain the same colour during the year, and retreat to wooded areas when the weather becomes wintery. These will be added soon to the Hares Gallery.
Mountain hares are the only truly native hare in the UK, and are found on higher ground, as their name suggests. These hardy mammals have much shorter ears than their brown cousins, to retain body heat during the long, cold winters. They also have a coat, or pelage, that changes colour during the year, and is believed to change three times within each calendar year. During the summer they are of a chocolate brown or tan colour, which can turn almost completely white for the winter. Though not all mountain hares do turn white.
Mountain hares have their own territory where they have a preferred form, which offers them shelter from the cold winds during winter. This might be a rock or ditch.
During the late winter, and into spring, mountain hares will box to determine breeding rights, resulting in leverets late spring.
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