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Rarely seen creatures of Africa – The Scrub hare

Scrub hare. 
The difference between rabbits and hares are that rabbits are born hairless and hares are born with a fully haired coat. Hares also have a longer pair of back legs than rabbits.

These not so commonly seen hares often don’t survive past their first year; if not caught by a side-striped jackal, cheetah, predatory birds, caracal or hunters, they can live to be up to 5 years old in the wild. 

The scrub hare is a grizzled-grey colour with tiny black speckles on the fur with a white underneath.  They have long grey ears and a cute black and white tail on their end. When lying down they are well-camouflaged and hidden from predators in the long grass.

Scrub Hares are only found in Southern African countries, from Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda, and Kenya to Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Nigeria and Mozambique as well as South Africa. 

They make their homes in shrubs, tall grasslands and savannahs avoiding deserts. These hares do not live in burrows like rabbits, but prefer to make hollows under bushes.

These nocturnal animals are solitary animals that only interact with another hare when on the look-out for a mating partner. They prefer to eat in the open grass at night but do come out earlier if the sky is overcast.
You can see the large ears on this Scrub hare.

The scrub hare will run in a zigzag pattern at speeds up to 70km/h to avoid capture from predators. They have also been seen my drivers at night zigzagging as they run in front of cars.

These hares are herbivores munching mostly on short, green grass but during droughts will also eat leaves and stems.

Breeding season peaks between the start of spring in September through to summer at the end of February, although these hares do breed all year long from the age of 1 years old.

An adorable baby Scrub hare.
Up to three males may follow a female hare competing for her attention by ‘boxing’ with their forefeet or kicking with their long back legs.

Female scrub hares carry their young for up to 42 days sometimes having up to 4 litters of one to three baby hares a year! 

Mother hares are not very motherly only suckling their babies at night for a short while. The babies are born fully haired with open eyes and developed enough to take care of themselves not long after birth. The youngsters lead independent lives from a month old. 

Did you know?

They eat their very own faeces to gain extra nutrients needed. 

Baby hares are known as leverets. 

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