Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Lagomorpha / Leporidae / Genus:
Lepus -

Species referenced within Wildpro

Alternative names (Synonyms)
  • Allolagus.
  • Boreolagus.
  • Chionobates.
  • Eulagos.
  • Eulepus.
  • Indolagus.
  • Lagos.
  • Macrotolagus.
  • Poecilolagus.
  • Proeulagus.
  • Sabanolagus.
  • Sinolagus.
  • Tarimolagus.


Genus Synonyms
  • Allolagus.
  • Boreolagus.
  • Chionobates.
  • Eulagos.
  • Eulepus.
  • Indolagus.
  • Lagos.
  • Macrotolagus.
  • Poecilolagus.
  • Proeulagus.
  • Sabanolagus.
  • Sinolagus.
  • Tarimolagus.


General Lepus spp. Information  

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General Information

General Information

General Lepus spp. information

General Appearance
  • All hares have well-furred feet. (B147)
  • Jackrabbits are big, slender-bodied species with long ears. (B147)
Measurement & Weight


  • Males are often smaller than the females. (B147, B287)
  • Hares are generally larger than rabbits. (B430.w2)
  • 400-700 mm (B147)
  • 40-76 cm (B285.w5c)
  • 1.3-7kg. (B287)
  • 1,350-7,000 g (B147)
  • 1.2-5 kg (B285.w5c)
  • "Hares are classic species in following Bergmann's Rule; weights in the far north reach 5 kg, most in temperate regions average 3 kg, and those at the equator are about 2 kg or less." It should be noted that there are exceptions to this rule within the genus. (B605.4.w4)
Head and Neck

General Head Structure

  • Almost all Lepus species have long ears. (B147)

Dentition --


  • 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)
Legs, Spine and Tracks
  • All hares have well-furred feet. (B147)
  • Almost all Lepus species have large hind feet. (B147)
  • Tail length: 35-100 mm (B147)
  • Average: 58 mm (B430.w2)
  • Range: 48-76 mm (B430.w2)
  • 3.5-12cm (B285.w5c)
Skin / Coat / Pelage


  • 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)

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 --

Detailed Anatomy Notes

Female Reproductive Tract

  • Females within this genus have between 6 and 10 mammae. (B287)

Male Reproductive Tract --

Life Stages

Breeding Season

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

Oestrus / Ovulation --

Gestation / Pregnancy

  • Gestation for Lepus species varies, but can be up to 50 days. (B285.w5c)

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)
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)

Litter Size

  • Litter sizes in Lepus species range from one to nine offspring. (B285.w5c)
Time between litters/Litters per year
  • "In contrast to most species of temperate regions, the females of which generally produce at least 2 litters annually, hares that occur north of the treeline normally give birth only once a year." (B147)
  • Northern species of Lepus produce two to four litters during spring and summer. (B285.w5c)

Lactation / Milk Production --

Sexual Maturity

  • Lepus young do not usually breed in their first year of life. (B147)

Male Seasonal Variation --

Longevity / Mortality --

Natural Diet
  • "In isolated cases hares are reported to have captured and eaten voles and young lagomorphs."
Detailed Physiology Notes

Gastrointestinal System (Faeces and Gut Motility) --

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

Special Senses and Vocalisations

  • 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)
Feeding Behaviour --
Parental Behaviour --
Social Behaviour / Territoriality / Predation / Learning

Social Behaviour

  • 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)

Predation --

Predator Avoidance

  • 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) (B147)

Population Densities

  • 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 regeneration, hare population numbers are able to start increasing once more. (B147)

Home Ranges and Distances Travelled

  • "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 Arctic hares usually having home ranges of 4-20 hectares, whereas those of the European hare exceed 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)

Territoriality --

Sexual Behaviour
  • 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)
Activity Patterns, Self-grooming and Navigation

Activity Patterns --

Circadian Rhythm

  • Hares are, on the whole, nocturnal species, although some are known to be more active at twilight, and others are most active during the cooler parts of the day. (B147)

Speed of Movement

  • Speeds of up to 72 km/h (45 mph) have been reported for hares. (B285.w5b)
General Habitat Type
  • Found in steppe and desert habitats. (B51)
  • Most Lepus species live in open grassy habitats. (B147, B285.w5c)
  • Jackrabbits tend to be found in areas of sparse vegetation. (B147)
Nests / Burrows / Shelters
  • 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)
Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)
  • Various species of Lepus have been introduced into non-native areas; the hares have frequently thrived in these areas and have been reported to disrupt the habitat, thus causing problems for the native wildlife, as well as for human agriculture. (B147)
  • Of all the lagomorphs, hares are the most widespread genus. (B605.4.w4)
Species variation
  • "L.crawshayi (including whytei), peguensis, ruficaudatus, and siamensis have been variously treated as separate species or have been included in nigricollis. L.europaeus, corsicanus, granatensis, mediterraneus, tolai, and tibetanus have been placed in capensis or treated as distinct species." (B607.w20)
  • "Formerly included Bunolagus...and originally all other genera Brachylagus, Caprolagus, Macrotolagus, Poelagus, Pronolagus, Romerolagus, Sylvilagus) in Leporidae except Pentalagus." (B607.w20)
  • Despite their name, jackrabbits are, in fact, true hares. (B147)
Conservation Status

Wild Population - Importance --

Red-Data List Status --

Threats --

Pest Status / Pest Populations --

Captive Populations --

Trade and Use --


  • "The big, long-eared, slender-bodied jack rabbits of western North America are true hares, despite their usual vernacular name." (B147)
Social Behaviour / Territoriality / Predation / Learning

Predation Avoidance

  • Jackrabbits remain well hidden when crouching down in dense cover, but are often highly conspicuous when sitting up being vigilant or when running. (B147)
Activity Patterns, Self-grooming and Navigation

Speed of Movement

  • "They run rapidly and for greater distances than the true rabbits (Sylvilagus) that occupy much the same range. Unlike the latter, jack rabbits make rather long, high leaps." (B147)
General Habitat Type
  • Jackrabbits are generally found in areas of sparse vegetation, such as areas of overgrazing. (B147)

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Primary Reference at the level of this taxa

B141 Don E. Wilson and DeeAnn M. Reeder
Mammal Species of the world - A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (Second Edition)

Other References

B51 G B Corbett & J E Hill
A World List of Mammalian Species

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