One of the most beloved characters of folk tales — This is a common hare. He is a little cowardly, boastful, but at the same time incredibly fast and savvy. The people did not take all these qualities “from the ceiling”, but spied on nature itself. After all, the hare — this is a really smart and nimble animal, which, although it is a tasty object for large predators, is still not as harmless as it seems.
Origin of the species and description
The order of lagomorphs is already almost 65 million years old, because it arose at the very beginning of the Tertiary period. He budded from a branch of mammals. Many scientists believe that it evolved from the ancestors of modern ungulates. The hare, together with its closest relative, the white hare, once represented one original species. But later it broke up into two species under the influence of different habitat conditions.
Russian Hare — This is a representative of the Zaitsev family (Leporidae), from the genus Zaitsev. It has several subspecies that have some external features:
- Central Russian hare (L. e. hybridus);
- Steppe hare (L. e. tesquorum);
- European hare (L. e. europaeus).
Rusak — this is a fairly large representative of hares. Its weight is on average 4-6 kg, sometimes reaching 7 kg. In the north and northeast, large individuals are much more common. The length of the body is 58-68 cm. The body of the hare is lean, slender, somewhat compressed from the sides.
The front paws of the hare are shorter than the hind ones. In addition, the number of fingers on them is different: there are 4 behind them, and 5 in front. On the soles of the paws, the hare has a thick brush of wool. The tail is short — 7 to 12 cm long, pointed at the end. The average length of the ears is 11-14 cm, they significantly exceed the size of the head, the ears form a tube at the base.
Video: European Hare
The hare’s eyes are red-brown in color, they are deep set and look to the side, which improves his vision. The neck is weak, but flexible, thanks to which the hare can turn its head well in different directions. This animal has 28 teeth. The chewing apparatus of a hare is somewhat similar to rodents.
Hares — animals are quiet, usually do not make any sounds. They only cry out in pain when they are wounded, or in desperation if they are caught. With the help of quiet squeals, the female can call her rabbits. Alarmed, they make clicking sounds with their teeth.
Among themselves, the hare communicate with the help of tapping with their paws. These sounds are very reminiscent of a drum roll. Hares are excellent runners — in a straight line can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. These cunning creatures know how to confuse traces. They also make long jumps and swim well.
Appearance and Features
The color of a brown hare is very different in summer and winter, of course, not as radically as that of a hare, but nevertheless significantly. The fur of the hare is very thick and slightly harsh. In the warm season, the colors of the back vary from reddish-gray to almost brown.
The most different shades of brown, brown are interspersed with dark streaks, which are formed due to the different color ends of the hair on the undercoat. At the same time, the guard hairs at the ends have ocher shades. The entire coat of the hare is shiny, silky, the undercoat is thin, with crimped hairs. The sides of the hare are lighter, the belly is almost white, with almost no inclusions.
Ears at the ends are always black. The tail is light below, and brown or even darker above. Near the eyes, the coat forms white rings. In winter, the fur becomes even thicker, the color changes to lighter, but completely white, unlike the hare, the hare never happens. Not only the tips of the ears remain invariably dark, but also the entire head and the front of the back. Females and males do not differ in color.
But in different subspecies, the color and texture of the coat may differ:
- The Central Russian hare is characterized by crimped fur in the back area. In summer, it has a clayey-red color with black-brown speckles, and in winter its back and sides become grayish;
- The European hare practically does not brighten the fur in winter;
- crimped fur on the back.
Hares molt twice a year. In spring, this process occurs in the second half of March and lasts about 80 days. Especially intensively wool begins to fall out in April, it literally falls in shreds, and by mid-May it is completely renewed. Interestingly, the molt has a direction. The spring one goes from head to tail, and the winter one — vice versa.
Autumn-summer hairs begin to fall out from the hips, the process moves to the ridge, front paws and moves towards the head. Later, fluffy winter fur grows near the eyes. The autumn molt begins in September and ends in November, but can drag on until December if the weather is warm.
Where does the hare live?
Rusak loves the steppes, he can be found in various parts of the globe. As early as the middle of the Quaternary period, its settlement to the north took place. Therefore, today it inhabits the steppe and forest-steppe zones, tundra and deciduous forests of Europe.
Its main habitats:
- Anterior and Asia Minor ;
- North Africa.
In the north, the hare has settled down to Finland itself, capturing Sweden, Ireland and Scotland. And in the south, its habitat stretched to Turkey, Iran, the northern part of North Africa and Kazakhstan. Until now, fossil remains of a hare are found on the Crimean Peninsula and in Azerbaijan, in places of Pleistocene deposits.
In North America, the hare was inhabited artificially. He was brought there in 1893, and later, in 1912, from there the hare was brought to Canada.
However, today it is preserved there only in the Great Lakes region. In the same way, the hare appeared in Central America and South. In Australia, the hare completely turned into a pest, so he acclimatized there.
In Russia, the hare lives throughout the European part of the country, up to Lake Onega and the Northern Dvina. Further, the population spreads through Perm and the Urals, and then to the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan. In the south, the hare inhabits the Transcaucasus, the Caspian, all territories up to Karaganda. The only place where the hare did not take root is Buryatia.
In a number of Russian regions, the hare was also released artificially:
- The foothill regions of Altai;
- Kuznetsk Alatau;
- Altai Territory;
- Krasnoyarsk Territory;
- Novosibirsk Region;
- Irkutsk Region;
- Chita Region;
- Khabarovsk Krai;
- Primorsky Krai.
What does a hare eat?
The hare has an enviably varied diet. This extensive list includes almost 50 plant species. In the warm season, the animal actively consumes cereals: timothy grass, oats, millet, wheatgrass. He also loves legumes: alfalfa, seradella, peas, clover, lupins. Delicious plants for hares are also spurge, plantain, dandelions, quinoa and buckwheat.
With the onset of August, the hares switch to eating seeds of cereals and especially legumes. In this regard, hares, like birds, contribute to the spread of plants, since not all seeds are digested and thus re-enter the environment.
In many agricultural areas, hares are considered pests and a real disaster. Since in the autumn-winter period they feed on the bark and shoots of trees: apple trees, pears, willows, poplars and hazel. In one night, representatives of this species can significantly spoil the garden.
In addition to the bark, the hares continue to eat seeds, the remains of withered grass and even garden crops, which they dig out from under the snow. Often these dug places are visited by gray partridges, which themselves cannot dig snow to feast on scraps.
Rough food is poorly digested by hares, so they often eat their own excrement. So they get the opportunity to better assimilate nutrients. In the course of some experiments, the hares were deprived of such an opportunity, the result was a sharp decrease in weight, illness, and even death of individuals.
Character and lifestyle features
Brown Hare — this is an adherent of open spaces, even choosing a forest zone, he seeks to settle in a clearing or a place of extensive clearing. Very rarely it can be found in coniferous thickets; it prefers deciduous woodlands. And most of all, hares love human agricultural land, where there are small ravines, copses or bushes.
Brown grouse are often found in floodplains and in areas where grain crops are sown. If the forest-steppe where the hare lives is located in the foothills, in summer it can rise to a height of up to 2000 m. And in winter it descends from there, closer to settlements. Hares that live in the mountains descend to the floodplains in winter, and in the spring they tend back to the highlands.
As a rule, hare live settled. If there is enough food on the territory, they can live within 40-50 hectares for many years. Otherwise, hares daily travel tens of kilometers from the territory of the lair to the place for feeding and back. Hare migrations also depend on the season, for example, in the southern regions they move with the start of sowing.
Hares prefer to be nocturnal, during the day they are active only during the rut. If the conditions are unfavorable, the hare may not leave his shelter at all — beds. Most often, this is an ordinary hole dug in the ground, somewhere under a bush or hidden behind a fallen tree.
But even more often the hare simply sits in the bushes, hiding on the boundary or in a deep furrow. Can calmly use the empty holes of other animals: foxes or badgers. But the hares rarely dig their holes, only temporary, if there is a strong heat. The choice of a place to lie depends on the time of year. So in early spring, animals choose the warmest places.
In wet weather, hares look for hills, and in dry weather — vice versa low. In winter, they lay down in the thickness of the snow, in a place protected from the wind. If the snow is very deep, they dig holes in it up to 2 m long. Favorite places for lying hares — these are haystacks on the outskirts of villages.
Social structure and reproduction
Sexual maturity of females and males of the hare occurs one year after birth, usually in the spring. This species is a fast breeder. The beginning of the rut period and the number of broods per year depends on climatic conditions. Under favorable conditions, the mating period begins as early as January.
The rut marks are especially noticeable on the snow. These are traces of the orange urine of females and blown up snow, which is trampled by angry males in a dispute over the female sex. Each female is followed by 2-3 males. They put up some pretty tough fights that are accompanied by their shrill cries.
The fight stops at the moment when the female assumes a mating position. The strongest male covers it, while the rest at this time jump over this couple, trying to knock down the male with their paws. In such conditions, only the most dexterous and strong is able to become the successor of the hare family. The next rut comes in April, followed by the third — in mid-July.
The first hares will appear in April, 45-48 days after fertilization. Usually born from 1 to 9 babies. They are born already sighted, with hearing and covered with fur. The weight of each hare is about 100 g. The quantity and quality of the litter is directly related to weather conditions. The warmer and more satisfying the year, the larger the rabbits and the greater their number.
For the first two weeks, the babies eat only milk, but when their mass grows 4 times, the hare begins to drag them grass. Far the female does not depart from offspring, ready in case of danger, to protect her family. The family stays together until the hares are 2 months old. The mother then leaves them to take care of the next brood.
There can be 3 or 4 broods in total per year. The further south the habitat, the more chances for a fourth brood. The hare has an enviable fertility. However, of all babies, 1-2 per year survive. Their mortality from bad weather, diseases, human activities and predators is very high.
On average, hare live no more than 8 years, in rare cases they can live 10-12 years. They have a lot of potential enemies. As a rule, they are loners and seek company only during the rut.
Natural enemies of the hare
Natural enemies of the hare have a huge impact on its population. For a year, predators are able to destroy up to 12% of the total number of hares. This figure is directly dependent on the number of predators living in a particular area, as well as on the availability of other food and the number of hares themselves.
The most dangerous animals for hares:
- winged predators: eagles, owls, hawks.
All that remains for the Russians — it is disguise, fast running and obfuscation of traces. Gray-brown color helps the hare to hide not only among branches and fallen trees, but also in the middle of snowy plains. The sly one can pretend to be a stump or a bump covered with snow. Saves hares and speed, and ability to swim — in the struggle for life, a hare can swim across a river.
Population and species status
The number of the hare in ordinary years is several million individuals. Under the influence of various factors, it can change, for example, with starvation. However, not as much as in other species. Interestingly, these fluctuations in the southern ranges are sharper than in the northern ones.
Russian Hare — it is a popular object for hunting, as it is a valuable game animal. It is mined for dietary meat and soft, fluffy skins that go to fur coats and hats. In addition to fur products, yarn and felt are made from hare wool.
In many countries, the hare is considered a pest at all. One individual per night can gnaw bark from 10-12 trees. And he is also a carrier of diseases, although, unlike the hare, he is less infected with worms and trematodes. However, the hare carries toxoplasmosis and some infections: brucellosis, pasteurellosis and tularemia.
Despite the large losses of hares under the age of 5 months from predators, diseases and severe frosts, the number of hare is incredibly large. They easily take root in many parts of the world. The species is not considered endangered or endangered.
The hare plays an important role in world and Russian culture. His image in fairy tales is associated either with death or with fertility and family well-being. The hare is portrayed as cowardly and weak. And in life, he can even inflict lacerated wounds on a large predator! In some countries, monuments have been erected to this animal, and in Belarus, a monetary unit is even named after him. So the hare — the beast is ambiguous in its essence, but unequivocally loved by many nations.