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Living OrganismsAnimalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Lagomorpha / Leporidae / Lepus / Species

Lepus capensis - Cape hare (Click photographs/illustrations for full picture & further details)

Arabian hare Oman. Click here for full page view with caption Arabian hare from Saudi Arabia. Click here for full page view with caption Arabian hare from Saudi Arabia. Click here for full page view with caption Arabian hare from the United Arab Emirates. Click here for full page view with caption Arabian hare from United Arab Emirates. Click here for full page view with caption Cape hare from South Africa. Click here for full page view with caption Cape hare from South Africa. Click here for full page view with caption Cape hare from Tanzania. Click here for full page view with caption Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption.  Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption. Head of Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption. Leveret Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption. Head of leveret Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption. Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption Head of Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption Tail of Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption

INDEX - INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

APPEARANCE / MORPHOLOGY

LIFE STAGES / NATURAL DIET / PHYSIOLOGY

BEHAVIOUR

HABITAT & RANGE

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Arabian hare (Lepus capensis arabicus)
  • Lepus arenarius (South Africa). (B607.w20)
  • Lepus centralis (South Africa). (B607.w20)
  • Lepus granatensis (possibly) (B51)
  • Lepus ochropoides (South Africa). (B607.w20)
  • Lepus ochropus (South Africa). (B607.w20)
  • Lepus tolai. (B51)
  • Lepus capensis abbotti.(B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis aegyptius.(B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis aethiopicus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis aquilo. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis arabicus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis atallahi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis atlanticus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis bedfordi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis carpi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis chadensis. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis cheesmani. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis dinderus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis ermeloensis. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis granti. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis hartensis. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis harterti. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis hawkeri. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis innesi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis isabellinus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis jefferyi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis kabylicus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis kalaharicus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis langi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis major. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis mandatus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis maroccanus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis narranus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis omanensis. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis pallidior. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis pediaeus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis rothschildi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis salai. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis schlumbergeri. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis sefranus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis sherif. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis sinaiticus. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis tunetae. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis vernayi. (B607.w20)
  • Lepus capensis whitakeri. (B607.w20)
  • Unassigned: barcaeus. (B607.w20)

Names for new-borns / juveniles

  • Leveret. (B285.w5b)

Names for males

Names for females

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General Appearance

Adult:

  • All hares have well-furred feet. (B147)
  • "The upper parts of the body are usually brown or grayish brown, and the underparts are paler or white." (B147)
  • Some species of hare have black tips to their ears, and some have black fur on the upper side of their tail. (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • This hare varies in colour from pale sandy buff to a rich, almost rusty brown, and has white underparts. (B605.4.w4)
  • "The ears in desert forms may be pale-edged; others have a narrow black edge at the top...and the fur is very soft and straight." (B605.4.w4)

Newborn:

  • Lepus spp. leverets are furred at birth. (B147, B285.w5b, B287)

Similar Species

--

Sexual Dimorphism

--

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References

Species Authors & Referees

Author: Kathryn Pintus BSc MSc MSc (V.w115)

ORGANISATIONS

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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Husbandry Information

Notes

  • --

Management Techniques

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Notes

LENGTH
Adult:

General Lepus Information

  • 400-700 mm. (B147)
  • Males are usually smaller than females. (B147)
  • 40-76 cm. (B285.w5c)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • There is a great deal of variation in size and appearance between the subspecies. (B605.4.w4)
  • One specimen of the subspecies Lepus capensis jefferyi was 320 mm in length. (B147)

Newborns:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Newborns of this species are usually between 130-170 mm in length. (B287)

HEIGHT
Adults and sub-adults: --
Juveniles: --

WEIGHT
Adult:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • The weight of this species ranges from 1 kg to 3.5 kg. (B605.4.w4)

Newborns:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Newborns of this species usually weigh between 80-165 g. (B287)
  • Average: 97 g. (Sample size = 21). (B287)
  • Average: 107 g; Range: 65-115 g. (Sample size = 54; weighed at one to two days of age). (B287)
  • 113.2 g 15.6; Range: 60-180 g (Sample size = 283). (B287)
  • Average: 130.2 g; Range: 100-170 g. (Sample size = 11). (B287)

GROWTH RATE 

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Weaning mass:
    • 200 g (solid food). (B287)
    • Mode is approximately 1kg weaned. (B287)
    • 808-1022 g. (B287)

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Head and Neck

Notes

Head of Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption. Head of leveret Lepus capensis - Cape hare. Click here for full page view with caption.

GENERAL HEAD STRUCTURE:
Adult:

General Information

  • All lagomorphs have large ears relative to their body size. (B285.w5a)
  • Almost all Lepus species have long ears. (B147)

Newborn: --

DENTITION:
Adult:

General Information

  • Rabbits and hares have a total of 28 teeth. (B285.w5a)
  • The lower tooth rows are closer together than the upper tooth rows. (B147)
  • Lagomorphs differ from rodents by having two pairs of upper incisors rather than just the one pair. The additional set of incisors are called peg teeth and are found directly behind the long pair in the upper jaw. (B147, B285.w5a, B605.1.w1)
  • At birth, lagomorphs actually have three pairs of upper incisors, but they quickly lose the outer incisor on each side. (B147)
  • The incisors are covered completely by enamel. (B147)
  • The upper incisors' roots are found in the skull's premaxillary bones. However, the length of the lower incisors' roots varies. (B147)
    • [Note: lagomorphs have teeth which grow throughout their lives. For this reason the portion of the teeth which is not exposed (not above the gum line) is strictly speaking not a "root"; however, it is sometimes convenient to describe it as a root.]
  • The first upper incisors have a straight cutting edge. (B147)
  • The peg teeth lack a cutting edge. (B147)

EYES:
Adult:

General Information

  • Lagomorph eyes are positioned such that they allow for good broad-field vision. (B285.w5a)
  • Hares and rabbits have large eyes which are adapted to both their crepuscular and nocturnal activity patterns. (B285.w5b)
  • Leporids have "large eyes to increase visual acuity in dim light." (B430.w2)

Newborn: 

General Information

  • Leverets are born with their eyes open. (B147, B285.w5b, B287)

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Legs, Spine and Tracks

Notes

General Information
  • All hares have well-furred feet. (B147)
  • Almost all Lepus species have large hind feet. (B147)

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Tail

Notes

General Lepus Information:

  • Leporids have a short tail. (B147)
  • 35-100 mm. (B147)
  • Average: 58 mm. (B430.w2)
  • Range: 48-76 mm. (B430.w2)
  • 3.5-12 cm. (B285.w5c)

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Skin / Coat / Pelage

Notes

Adult:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Upperparts: Range from "very pale sandy buff to rich almost rusty brown." (B605.4.w4)
  • Underparts: White. (B605.4.w4)
  • "The ears in desert forms may be pale-edged; others have a narrow black edge at the top...and the fur is very soft and straight." (B605.4.w4)

Adult Colour variations:

  • Some Lepus species moult into a white winter pelage (B147, B605.4.w4), the timing of which depends upon the number of daylight hours. (B147)
  • "All species that turn white in winter undergo two molts per year. Some species that molt twice, however, do not have a white winter pelage." In these species, the winter pelage is grey, whereas the summer fur is brown. (B147)

Newborn / Juvenile:

  • Lepus spp. leverets are furred at birth. (B147, B285.w5b, B287)

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Notes

The details below are from general lagomorph, leporid and Lepus information.

Skull
  • Leporids have an arched skull with a slight constriction between the orbits. (B147)
  • Lepus species have a skull that is lighter than the skull of rabbit species. (B605.4.w4)
Female reproductive tract
  • Female Lepus spp. have three to five pairs of mammary glands, with an extensive mass of mammary tissue. (B147, B287)
Male reproductive tract
  • Males lack a baculum (B147)
  • Testes are in the scrotum located in front of the penis (B147)
Digestive system
  • The largest part of the digestive tract is the caecum; this has a capacity up to ten times that of the stomach. (B147)

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Life Stages

Notes

BREEDING SEASON:

General Information

  • The majority of Lepus species have a long breeding season. (B147)
  • Southern Lepus species breed throughout the year. (B285.w5c)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Breeding season for this species varies depending upon the region:
    • Bisemi Otak Island, Yugoslavia: January-June.
    • Leeds, UK: January-August.
    • Germany: January-August.
    • Norfolk, UK: January-September.
    • Moscow, Russia: February, and possibly earlier than this.
    • Argentina: July/August-April/May.
    • Patagonia, Argentina: August-January.
    • Snowy Plain, Australia: Peak mating occurs in October. No mating occurs between February and July.
    • Captive: December-September.
    • Netherlands: end of December. Unknown as to when the breeding season ends.
    • Newfoundland, Canada: thought to occur year-round.
  • Breeding is continuous near the equator. (B605.4.w4)
  • Karakumy desert, Turkmenia: Reproduction occurs between January and mid-June. (B287)
  • Byelorussia: Reproduction occurs February to September. (B287)
  • Caucasus, Russia: Reproduction occurs year-round, with a peak in the spring and summer. (B287)
  • USSR: Reproduction occurs between mid-winter and autumn. (B287)
  • In captive populations, reproduction occurs between January and September. (B287)

    (B287)

  • Conception:
    • Germany: March to mid-September. (B287)
OESTRUS / OVULATION:

General Information

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Germany: Oestrus occurs between January and August. (B287)
  • Captive individuals have been reported to ovulate between January and August. (B287)
  • Cycle length: 7 days. (B287)
GESTATION / PREGNANCY:

General Information

  • Under adverse conditions (such as during climatic or social stress), female lagomorphs are able to resorb embryos. (B285.w5a)
  • It is thought that some lagomorph species are able to conceive a second litter even before the last young is born; this is known as superfetation. (B285.w5a)
  • Gestation for Lepus species varies, but can be up to 50 days. (B147,B285.w5c)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Females first conceive at about 5 months of age. (B287)
  • Gestation period varies between 38 and 46 days, usually around 41 or 42 days. (B287)
  • Has been known to last up to 69 days. (B287)
  • Following artificial insemination, gestation period was found to be 44 days. (B287)
  • The period during which pregnant females are found varies depending upon the region:
    • Iran: January.
    • Ontario, Canada: January-August.
    • Scotland, UK: January-September. Further reports of pregnant females being found year-round.
    • Southern Ontario, Canada: None were found in December, 95% females were pregnant between February and June, and 10% in August.
    • Germany: More than 50% of females were pregnant between February and July, with less than 40% being pregnant between August and October. There is no data available for the November to January period.
    • Botswana: Pregnancies recorded in February, June and November. Few data.
    • Germany: February-August/September.
    • Bisemi Otak Island, Yugoslavia: mid-March to August.
    • Kenya: One female was found to be pregnant in May.
    • El Vergel, Malleco Province, Chile: One female was found to be pregnant in August.
    • New Zealand: Pregnant females found year round. 90% of females pregnant between August and February.
    • Riverine District, Australia: pregnant females found year round, with a peal between August and October.
    • Poland: January-September.

(B287)

PARTURITION / BIRTH:

General Information

  • Leverets are precocial and are born into surface-depression forms. (B285.w5b)
  • Females give birth to their young in open areas, or in a shallow depression in the ground. (B147)
  • Leverets remain hidden within dense vegetation, and the female visits them in order to nurse them. (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Time of year in which births occur varies depending upon the region:
    • Karakun, USSR: January-June.
    • Captive individuals have been reported to give birth between the end of January and November.
    • Southern Sweden: February to September/October.
    • Germany: February to October.
    • Southern Moravia, Czechoslovakia: March-July.
    • Zoo: March to August.
    • Moscow, Russia: March to September.
    • Turkestan: April-May, summer. There is no data for autumn or winter.
    • Angola: October to April.
    • South Africa: births occur year-round, with a peak between October and February.

(B287)

Neonatal / Development:

General Information

  • Leverets are precocial; they are born fully furred, with open eyes, and are able to move about soon after birth. (B147, B285.w5b, B287)
  • Young are only suckled briefly once every 24 hours. (B285.w5b)
  • Approximately three days after birth, leverets disperse to separate hiding locations. Leveret litter-mates will regroup for a brief suckling bout at a particular location at precisely defined intervals. Such regrouping often takes place around sunset. (B285.w5b)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Weaning mass:
    • 200 g (solid food). (B287)
    • Mode is approximately 1 kg weaned. (B287)
    • 808-1022 g. (B287)
  • In Baluchistan, young are found between April and early May. (B287)
LITTER SIZE:

General Information

  • The size of litters produced by leporids at northern latitudes tends to be greater than those produced by leporids at southern latitudes. (B430.w2)
  • Litter sizes in Lepus species range from one to nine offspring. (B285.w5c)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Near the equator, litter size for this species varies "with the rainfall seasonally from 1.3 to 2.0 in different months." (B605.4.w4)
  • Litter size in this species ranges from one to seven young, though two or three appears to be the norm. (B287)
TIME BETWEEN LITTERS / LITTERS PER YEAR:

General Information

  • The inter-birth interval in lagomorphs is reduced by the phenomenon of induced ovulation, and post-partum oestrus, which allows females to conceive immediately after she has given birth. (B285.w5a)
  • A female can produce up to three or four litters per year. (B430.w2)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Near the equator, this species produces eight litters per year. (B605.4.w4)
  • Interlitter interval reported to be between 25 and 59 days. (B287)
  • Between 1.77 and 7.73 litters per year. (B287)
LACTATION / MILK PRODUCTION:

General Information

  • Leporids only release milk once in every 24 hour period. (B285.w5b)
  • Leporid milk has a very high fat and protein content, and as such is highly nutritious. Although the lactation period is brief, the milk is pumped into the young at a high speed.(B285.w5b)
  • The lactation period has a duration of between 17 and 23 days. (B285.w5b)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Solid food: between 7 and 14 days. (B287)
  • Weaned between 14 days and two months of age. (B287)
  • Independent at approximately one month of age. (B287)
  • Lactation period varies depending upon the region:
    • El Vergel, Malledo Province, Chile: February.
    • Transvaal, South Africa: February, July, November and December.
    • Iran: August-September.
    • Germany: less than 10% of females were lactating between December-January.

    (B287)

SEXUAL MATURITY:

General Information

  • Most species of lagomorph reach sexual maturity relatively early. (B285.w5a)
  • Lepus young do not usually breed in their first year of life. (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Female:
    • Rapid growth of the ovaries occurs when the female attains a weight of between 3 and 3.5 kg. (B287)
    • First corpus luteum at 4 months (mode: 6-7 months). (B287)
    • First conceive at approximately 5 months of age. (B287)
    • Reach sexual maturity between 7 and 8 months of age. (B287)
  • Male:
    • Epididymal sperm at 3.2 months. (B287)
    • Reach sexual maturity between 4 and 7 months of age, when the animals weigh about 2-2.5 kg is attained. (B287)
  • Both sexes:
    • First reproduce between 5 and 8 months of age. (B287)
    • If born in June, first reproduce at 6 months of age. If born between January and April, will first reproduce at between 9 and 12 months of age. (B287)
MALE SEASONAL VARIATION:

General Information

  • Testes are intra-abdominal outside the breeding season, descending into the scrotum during the breeding season. (B147)
LONGEVITY / MORTALITY:

General Information

  • Rabbits and hares in the wild live for less than a year on average; a maximum age of 12 years has been recorded in a couple of species. (B285.w5b)
  • "Only a minority of hares survive their first year in the wild, though survivors can reach 5 years; in captivity, hares can live to 6 or 7 years." (B285.w5c)

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Natural Diet

Notes

NATURAL DIET:

General Lepus Information

  • Hares mainly eat grasses and herbaceous plants, but do also feed on twigs, buds and bark. (B147)

  • Isolated cases have been reported of hares capturing and eating voles and young lagomorphs. (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • In savanna habitat, known to predominantly eat Digitaria. Also eats Thermeda triandra and dicots. (B605.4.w4)

  • "Diet in other habitats has been little studied and will undoubtedly vary widely." (B605.4.w4)

QUANTITY EATEN: --

STUDY METHODS: --

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Hibernation / Aestivation

Notes

--

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Haematology / Biochemistry

Notes

HAEMATOLOGY: --

BIOCHEMISTRY: --

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in WILDPro)

Notes

METABOLISM (TEMPERATURE): --

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM (RESPIRATION): --

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM (PULSE/HEART RATE): --

GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM (FAECES AND GUT MOTILITY):

General Information

  • Lagomorphs have digestive systems which are adapted for processing large quantities of vegetation. (B285.w5a)
  • Lagomorphs are well adapted for obtaining the greatest possible value from their food. They produce two types of faecal material: moist pellets and dry pellets. The moist pellets are expelled and then eaten (a behaviour known as coprophagy (B285.w5a)); this is done with little or no chewing, and as a result the majority of the food passes through the digestive tract twice (this is thought to have the same function as 'chewing the cud' in ruminants). The dry faecal pellets are not eaten. (B147)

URINARY SYSTEM (URINE): --

CHROMOSOMES: 

  • All the Lepus species have 48 chromosomes. (B605.4.w4)

MUSCULO-SKELETAL SYSTEM: --

SPECIAL SENSES AND VOCALISATIONS:

General Information

  • All lagomorphs use scent products secreted from special glands. (B285.w5a) These glands are located under the chin and in the groin, and are believed to play a key role in sexual communication, as well as in signalling social status in some gregarious species. (B285.w5b)
  • Whereas pikas tend to be more vocal, rabbits and hares rely strongly on scent rather than sound as a means of communication. (B285.w5b)
  • High-pitched distress squeals are emitted by leporids when captured by a predator. (B285.w5b, B430.w2)
  • The North American leporids have large ears with highly-developed hearing, an adaptation which allows them to detect predators when foraging in open habitats. (B430.w2)
  • Hares communicate with each other by drumming their feet. (B147)
  • Deep grumbling has been reported in Lepus species, and shrill calls are emitted when the animal is in pain. (B285.w5c)
  • "When seeking the young for nursing, females call the young and are answered." (B147)

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Notes

General Information

  • Lagomorphs are well adapted for obtaining the greatest possible value from their food. They produce two types of faecal material: moist pellets and dry pellets. The moist pellets are expelled and then eaten; this is done with little or no chewing, and as a result the majority of the food passes through the digestive tract twice (this is thought to have the same function as 'chewing the cud' in ruminants). The dry faecal pellets are not eaten. (B147)

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Parental Behaviour

Notes

General Information
  • Male leporids are not generally involved in care of the young. However, if adult females attack young leporids, males will intervene, a behaviour known as 'policing'. (B285.w5b)
  • Even maternal care of the young is not particularly prominent in leporids, hence this reproductive strategy is known as 'absentee parentism'. (B285.w5a)
  • Leporids demonstrate an unusual system of nursing; the young are suckled only briefly (often less than five minutes) just once every 24 hours. (B285.w5b)
  • It is thought that the lack of social contact between the mother and her young is a strategy which diminishes the chances of attracting the attention of predators. (B285.w5b)
  • The entrances to breeding tunnels are carefully re-sealed following each bout of suckling (B285.w5b)

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Social Behaviour / Territoriality / Predation / Learning

Notes

SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR:

General Information

  • Most North American leporid species are solitary, but congregations of these animals often occur in favoured feeding grounds. (B430.w2)
  • Hares are generally solitary animals. (B430.w2)
  • With the exception of the mating season (B147), most Lepus species are solitary. (B147, B285.w5c)
  • Hares communicate with each other by drumming their feet. (B147)
Specific Lepus capensis Information PREDATION:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

PREDATOR AVOIDANCE:

General Information

  • Hares will run out into open areas and use their speed in order to avoid predators. (B285.w5b, B605.4.w4)
  • Speeds of up to 72 km/h (45 mph) have been reported for hares. (B285.w5b)
  • "Instead of seeking cover, hares rely on their well-developed running ability to escape from danger: also on camouflage, by flattening on vegetation." (B285.w5c)
  • Jackrabbits can avoid predators by crouching against the ground in any available cover. (B147)
  • Jackrabbits are capable of running for greater distances than true rabbits (Sylvilagus sp.) (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • "Where hares have not been shot at in the past, they stop at the sound of a gun and can sometimes be picked up by hand with a spotlight." (B605.4.w4)
  • Runs into the open when disturbed. (B605.4.w4)

POPULATION DENSITIES:

General Lepus Information

  • Drastic, cyclic population density fluctuations occur in northern Lepus species. (B147)
  • Predator population cycles follow Lepus cycles; once predator populations have crashed, and vegetation has had the chance to regenerate, hare population numbers are able to start increasing once more. (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Densities have been found to be lower on mountain pasture and steppe than they are in agricultural habitats and valleys. (B605.4.w4)
  • Population densities have been estimated for the Orange Free State to be between 4.7 and 24.8 hares per square kilometre. (B605.4.w4)
  • Population densities in the Serengeti have been estimated to be approximately 9.3 hares per square kilometre on long-grass plains, with lower densities of 4.2 hares per square kilometre on short-grass plains. (Note: It is thought that some of the hares in the former habitat may have been Lepus crawshayi.) Overall density for this area was estimated at 8.5 hares per square kilometre. (B605.4.w4)
  • Other estimates of population density have reported it to be 121 hares per square kilometre in the Serengeti. An estimate for the semi-desert in Kenya has been made at 32 individuals per square kilometre, with a much higher density of 167 individuals per square kilometre in Kruger National Park. However, opinions on these reported estimates differ. (B605.4.w4)
  • "...there is little evidence of any regular seasonal or annual cycle in numbers." (B605.4.w4)

HOME RANGES AND DISTANCES TRAVELLED:

General Lepus Information

  • "Habitat type has a marked effect on home-range size within each species, but differences also occur between species." (B285.w5c)
  • Lepus species vary greatly in their home range sizes, with some species having home ranges of only 4-20 hectares, and others exceeding 300 hectares. (B285.w5c)
  • Areas within a couple of metres of forms may be defended, but home ranges often overlap, often with common feeding grounds. (B285.w5c)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • "Home ranges of Cape hares have rarely been measured and will undoubtedly vary widely with habitats." (B605.4.w4)

TERRITORIALITY:

General Information

  • The majority of hares and rabbits are non-territorial; some hares occupy home ranges of up to 300 ha (740 acres). Ranges of individuals may overlap in favoured feeding grounds. (B285.w5b)

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Sexual Behaviour

Notes

General Information

  • All lagomorphs use scent products secreted from special glands. (B285.w5a) These glands are located under the chin and in the groin, and are believed to play a key role in sexual communication, as well as in signalling social status in some gregarious species. (B285.w5b)
  • Male Lepus become bolder during the mating season, and engage in fights with other males, and pursue females. (B147)
  • Male Lepus fight by using boxing motions with their forefeet and kicking with their hind feet. (B147)
  • Males often bite and kick the females, often leading to serious injury. (B147)

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Activity Patterns, Self-grooming and Navigation

Notes

ACTIVITY PATTERNS:

General Information

  • All the lagomorphs are terrestrial. (B147)

SELF-GROOMING: --

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • A strictly nocturnal species. (B605.4.w4)

SPEED OF MOVEMENT:

General Information

  • Leporids can run at speeds of up to 80 km/hr. (B147)

NAVIGATION: --

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

Notes

General Information
  • Most Lepus species live in open grassy habitats. (B147, B285.w5c)
  • Jackrabbits tend to be found in areas of sparse vegetation. (B147)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Open country, including savanna grassland, steppe or desert habitat. (B605.4.w4)
  • May be found on alpine meadows. (B605.4.w4)
  • Where this species is present in desert areas, it is found in greatest numbers in river valleys. (B605.4.w4)
  • Found from sea level to elevations of up to 3,000 metres. (B605.4.w4)
  • Thrives on overgrazed pasture or in areas where fire has removed scrub. (B605.4.w4)
  • Prefers drier areas. (B605.4.w4)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

Notes

General Information
  • Hares tend to reside in caves or crevices in rocks. (B430.w2)
  • Lepus species do not usually dig burrows or live in them, favouring fleeing rather than hiding as a mode of escape. (B147)
  • The majority of hares rest underneath vegetation, generally lying within shallow dips in the ground (soil, snow or grass) known as 'forms'. (B147)
  • The majority of Lepus species live on the surface, but some do dig burrows or use tunnels and holes made by other animals. (B285.w5c)
  • Uses 'shelter forms' (small depressions within the ground or vegetation) to rest in during the day. Or may simply rest next to a plant. (B430.w2)

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • "In the Namib Desert, the Cape hare may make short burrows to shelter from the sun." (B605.4.w4)

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Notes

Specific Lepus capensis Information
  • The distribution of this species covers a vast geographic range, spanning from South Africa to East China. (B605.4.w4)
  • "The Cape hare occurs over most of Northern, Southern and Eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, Israel, Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, north India, southern Russia and most of northern China." (B605.4.w4)
  • "...recent changes in distribution probably reflect human pastoralism and the felling of forest rather than intentional introductions." (B605.4.w4)
  • "Iberian Peninsula, Palestine and Arabian Peninsula to northeastern and central China, most nonforested parts of Africa." (B147)
  • Subspecies Lepus capensis jefferyi is only found on the island of Masirah which is located off the southeastern coast of Oman. (B147)
  • Found in Africa, and from southern Europe to central China. (B51)
  • Found in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa through the Sinai Desert to Arabia, Mongolia and the Middle East, west of the River Euphrates. (B285.w5c)
  • Due to its ability to thrive on overgrazed pastures, the range of this species is expanding, pushing out the less adaptable hares. (B605.4.w4)

Geographic Sympatry

Note:

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Conservation

Species variation

Notes

Specific Lepus capensis Information
  • There are 80 subspecies of Cape hare. However, these must be revised as many may be invalid, and others may in fact be distinct species. (B605.4.w4)
    • "...the status of many "subspecies" is totally unknown; some may be entirely separate species, others incipient species or former species now lost by hybridisation and some may be merely clines." (B605.4.w4)
  • Subspecies Lepus capensis jefferyi has been suggested as a distinct species due to its small size, as well as its very short ears. (B147)
Currently recognised subspecies include:

South Africa:

  • Lepus capensis: including Lepus capensis arenarius, Lepus capensis centralis, Lepus capensis ochropoides, Lepus capensis ochropus. 
  • Lepus capensis aquilo: including Lepus capensis bedfordi; Lepus capensis ermeloensis; Lepus capensis hartensis; Lepus capensis vernayi.
  • Lepus capensis carpi: including Lepus capensis salai.
  • Lepus capensis granti: including Lepus capensis kalaharicus; Lepus capensis langi; Lepus capensis major; Lepus capensis mandatus; Lepus capensis narranus.

East Africa:

  • Lepus capensis aegyptius: including Lepus capensis abbotti; Lepus capensis chadensis; Lepus capensis dinderus.
  • Lepus capensis hawkeri.
  • Lepus capensis isabellinus: including Lepus capensis aethiopicus.
  • Lepus capensis sinaiticus: including Lepus capensis innesi; Lepus capensis rothschildi.

Arabia and Near East:

  • Lepus capensis arabicus: including Lepus capensis atallahi; Lepus capensis cheesmani; Lepus capensis jefferyi; Lepus capensis omanensis.

Northwest Africa (Mahgreb):

  • Lepus capensis schlumbergeri: including Lepus capensis harterti; Lepus capensis kabylicus; Lepus capensis pallidior; Lepus capensis pediaeus; Lepus capensis sefranus; Lepus capensis tunetae.
  • Lepus capensis atlanticus: including Lepus capensis maroccanus; Lepus capensis sherif.
  • Lepus capensis whitakeri.

Unassigned: barcaeus.

(B607.w20)

NB: names in non-bold font are reported as synonyms for that particular subspecies from the reference B607.w20.

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Conservation Status

Notes

WILD POPULATION - IMPORTANCE:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • "Under present nomenclature, the Cape hare is probably the most abundant of all Lepus species." (B605.4.w4)
  • There are concerns that, due to the distinctive nature of some subspecies, conservation attention should be given to this species. (B605.4.w4)

GENERAL LEGISLATION: --

CITES LISTING: --

RED-DATA LIST STATUS:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • IUCN - Lower Risk (least concern). (W2.Apr08.w10)

THREATS:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Intensified agriculture practices and an increase in the use of pesticides has caused a decline in the numbers of Cape hares in China during the last decade. (B605.4.w4)

PEST STATUS / PEST POPULATIONS: --

CAPTIVE POPULATIONS: --

TRADE AND USE:

Specific Lepus capensis Information

  • Game species in some countries. (B605.4.w4)
  • Used for meat and fur in some countries. (B605.4.w4)

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