Ireland's Biodiversity Awareness Campaign

 

Species of the Month

Below is a list of our previous 'Species of the Month'

Common Yew Tree
Witches' Butter
Oak
Hen Harrier
Eurasian Otter
Harbour Porpoise
Rat
Snowdrop
Blackthorn
Frog
Holly
Fox
Butterfiles of Ireland
Hare
Corncrake
Barn Owl
Hedgehog
Robin

 

 


March - The Hare

 

March       The Hare - Giorria (Lepus timidus hibernicus)

 

Hares, although similar to their Rabbit cousins are clearly larger than Rabbits, have longer ears and have longer hind legs. With these powerful legs they can reach speeds of up to 64km per hour. This animal has very good eyesight and just like the Rabbits they can see 360 degrees around them. This helps them to get a head start on predators. Foxes are seen as their main predator, but stoats are also a danger to leverets (baby hares).

 

 

Ireland has two species of hare  - the Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) and the Irish Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) . The Brown Hare was introduced to Ireland in the late 1800's and is mainly found in parts of Northern Ireland. The Irish Mountain Hare is one of Ireland's oldest inhabitants. It is red brown in colour in the summer months and, unlike

other mountain hares, does not turn white in the winter.   Hares do not

burrow but hide in forms - beds of flattened grasses.

 

A national survey of hares is being undertaken by the National Parks & Wildlife Service at present.  Hares appear to be found throughout the Irish countryside and despite their name are not restricted to upland areas.  The Hare is protected under the Wildlife Acts (1976 and 2000) and is listed on Annex V of the EU Habitats Directive. The Irish Hare is also listed in the Irish Red Data Book and an all-Ireland Species Action Plan for the Hare was published in 2005 (see www.npws.ie).

 

Hares can breed at any time of the year, depending on conditions, but the brighter mornings of early spring are a good time to see courtship activity. These competitions can become aggressive and males and females can often be seen boxing, kicking and chasing each other. The phrase "Mad as a March Hare" comes from these mating antics.

 

 

 

©2007 Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government