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Young Hare, a watercolour by the master Albrecht Dürer, 1512
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus: Lepus
Linnaeus, 1758
Hares are fast runners over grassland

Hares are mammals of the order Lagomorpha, in the same family as the rabbit. They are larger than rabbits and have black tipped ears. Their diet (the food they eat) resembles what rabbits eat. They graze on grass and leafy weeds.

Hares are very fast-running animals. The European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) runs at speeds up to 56 km/h (35 mph).[1][2] The five species of jackrabbit found in central and western North America can run at 64 km/h (40 mph), and can leap up to 3m (ten feet) at a time.[3] They live solitarily or in pairs; a "drove" is the name for a group of hares.

Normally a shy animal, the European brown hare changes its behaviour in spring, when hares chase one another around meadows. This may 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 was thought to be intermale competition, but closer observation has shown it is usually a female hitting a male to prevent copulation.[4]


  1. McKay, George; McGhee, Karen (2006). National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals. National Geographic Books. p. 68. ISBN 9780792259367 .
  2. Vu, Alan. "Lepus europaeus: European hare". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  3. USA. "Jackrabbits, jackrabbit pictures, jackrabbit facts - National Geographic". Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  4. Holly, Anthony J.F. et al 2010. The myth of the mad March hare, Nature 309, 549.