A European hare jumps through a wetland in the Netherlands
© Jim Brandenburg/Minden Picture
A spring in its step. European hare
Sometimes called ‘brown hares’, these critters live in open grassland across Europe and parts of Asia. They evade predators not by hiding underground, but by running – fast. An adult hare can sprint more than 40 miles per hour to escape predators.
When the spring breeding season arrives, hares undergo a drastic change in personality, from generally nocturnal and shy in nature, to frenzied, lovestruck animals on the hunt for mates. In their delirium, the hares will sometimes ‘box’ each other by striking out with their forepaws. Males may occasionally battle each other for dominance and attention, but more often it’s females that box, to fend off overly aggressive suitors or to test their resolve. These antics have become so famous, they are said to have inspired the idiom, ‘mad as a March hare’.