The Irish hare is greyish brown with a white belly, long legs and ears with dark tips. Its tail is totally white, which distinguishes it from its much smaller relative, the rabbit, which has a dark top to its tail.
Another difference is that hares do not live in burrows but create shallow hollows on the ground called 'forms' in which they hide by day. Hares avoid danger by running quickly on all fours and are highly maneuverable.
The Irish hare has been present in Ireland for 12,000 years, so it is one of Ireland’s oldest native mammals and is protected by law. The Irish hare is a distinct subspecies of the Arctic hare, which turns white in winter, but Ireland’s mild climate means the Irish hare keeps its brown coat all year round. It is the only Irish mammal regularly seen in raised bogs and its Irish name is Giorria. A second hare species, the brown hare, is found in parts of Northern Ireland where it was introduced for hunting in the 19th century.
Where does it live?
The Irish hare is found throughout the country in a variety of open habitats such as uplands, pastureland, grasslands by the coasts and even in the grass along the runways at Dublin airport. Its young are called ‘leverets’ and are born at any time of the year but mainly in spring and summer and are born with their eyes open and are fully furred.
Adult hares can be seen ‘boxing’ in Spring, which is part of a mating ritual between the larger female and smaller male.
What does it eat?
Irish hares are herbivores, eating mainly grasses and herbs, but also heather and the bark of birch and willow. Like all hares, the Irish hare produce two types of dropping, normal pellet-like droppings of digested food but also a softer protein-rich dropping that it re-ingests, because this still contains nutrients.
The footage was filmed at a site in Limerick with a trail cam with thanks to ECO FACT.
All week we are featuring our native mammals and if you want to learn more about them, and the work being done to protect them check out Vincent Wildlife Trust website.