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Scientific classification

Hares belong to family Leporidae, and mostly in genus Lepus. They are very fast moving. The European Hare can run at speeds of up to 70 km/h (45 mi/h). Hares live solitarily or in pairs.

A common type of hare in North America is the Snowshoe Hare.

Biologically the rabbit is a species group belonging to the hares. However, often the word "hare" refers to large members of the family Leporidae only. For a brief discussion of the differences between rabbits and "true" hares, see this website.

Normally a shy animal, the European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) changes its behaviour in spring, when hares can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around meadows; this appears to 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. For a long time it had been thought that this was more inter-male competition, but closer observation has revealed that it is usually a female hitting a male; either to show that she is not yet quite ready to mate, or as a test of his determination.

Folklore and Mythology

The hare in African folk tales is a trickster: some of the stories about the hare were retold among African slaves in America, and are the basis of the Brer Rabbit stories. (Note that the famous cartoon trickster Bugs Bunny is a jackrabbit, which is actually a species of hare.)

Many cultures, including the Japanese, see a hare in the pattern of craters in the moon (see Man in the Moon). The constellation Lepus represents a hare.


The hare as food is quite unlike rabbit. The meat is much darker and (as befits an animal noted for its running) full of blood; when cooked it is a very rich, tender meat.