Hare, Scrub

Lepus saxatilis

Scrub hare (Lepus saxatilis)
The scrub hare, unlike rabbits, does not have a burrow to escape to when threatened. Instead it relies on its large ears to detect danger and extremely powerful legs to make a fast getaway. It lives in savannah woodland and avoids the open grasslands where cover is limited.

Conservation status : Least concern
Length : 52 cm to 60 cm
Weight : 2 kg to 3 kg
Life span : 7 years
Gestation : 6 weeks
Young : Up to 3

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When escaping danger the scrub hare will run in a straight line and at the very last moment dart to the side so the predator overshoots. This is why a hare behaves the way it does when it is caught in a vehicles headlights.

Despite being born well developed young scrub hares are very vulnerable because they do not have burrows to shelter in. Instead they have virtually no smell to help avoid detection.

As hind-gut fermenters scrub hares process food so quickly they don’t get all of the goodness out of it. For this reason they eat vitamin rich faeces straight from their anus.

Young hares, known as leverets, are born with a full coat of fur and their eyes open. So quick is their development they can be independent of their parents at just 1 month old.

When resting the scrub hare lies flat in the vegetation which leaves an impression of the animal’s body, this field sign is known as a “form”.

When fleeing from predators scrub hares make use of a broad air passage to maximise their oxygen intake.