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hare  Irish Hares

Identify It >   Mammals Section >   Irish Hares >

Scientific name:  Lepus timidus hibernicus

Size:  50 to 65cm

Distribution:  Not common, but found in some parts of Ireland

Months seen:  All year round

Life span:  Up to 9 years

Habitat:  Mainly found on agricultural land, especially in pasture fields and cereal crop fields

Food:  Grass and cereal crops

Special features:  The Irish Hare is about the same size as the Mountain Hare.  It has short, rabbit-like ears, and honey-blond coloured fur.  Irish Hares were previously thought to be a sub-species of the Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus), however research by Natural Heritage Research Partnership showed they may be an entirely separate species.  They could be Irelands only endemic mammal - found nowhere else in the world.

According to recent surveys the Irish Hare is in decline.  The introduction of the Brown Hare has created an added threat.  Conservationists are concerned that the Brown hares could interbreed with Irish hares causing their local extinction.

The Irish hares in the photos above were in County Down.  According to the Ulster Wildlife Trusts, one of the best places to spot Irish hares is at Belfast International Airport (hareport?), where they can sometimes be seen passing through the long stay car park.

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