Scientific name: Lepus timidus
Intro: One of the UK’s iconic species the mountain hare can be found in the Scottish highlands and northern England heathlands, but are also found throughout the northern hemisphere
- Family: Mammals
- Length: 45 - 60cm
- Weight: 2.5 - 4kg
- Average lifespan: 3 - 4 years
Mountain hares are indigenous to Britain. It lives in upland areas and is most common on heathland, where it grazes on vegetation and the bark of young trees and bushes. Mountain hares do not dig burrows, but shelter in 'forms', which are shallow depressions in the ground or grass.
The mountain hare’s pelage is brown in summer, with a white tail; the pelage turns white in winter, dependent upon temperature, so not all individuals necessarily turn completely white. The mountain hare has long ears that are shorter than those of the brown hare and with slight black tips.
You can see mountain all year round but the best time to spot them is spring when the snow has melted and they still have their white pleage.
Conservation and Distribution
Mountain Hares are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. They are prey animals, so provide a rich food source for a variety of predators including golden eagles and wildcats.
The biggest threat to Mountain Hares is humans. They serve as game for hunters in some areas and are occasionally killed for sport.
Further threats to Mountain Hares include habitat loss and fragmentation.
Mountain hare Facts
- The mountain hare is native to the Scottish Highlands (but introduced elsewhere in the UK)
- Mountain Hares are nocturnal. They rest during the day and come out at night to feed.
- Mountain Hares mate from the end of January, and babies, known as leverets, are usually born between March and July after a 50 day gestation period