European hare, Netherlands
© Jim Brandenburg/Minden Picture
Sometimes called ‘brown hares’, these animals 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 60 kilometres per hour.
When the spring breeding season arrives, hares go through an extreme change in personality, from generally nocturnal and shy in nature, to frenzied, lovestruck animals on the hunt for mates. During this time, 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 fight, to fend off overly aggressive hares or to test their resolve. This behaviour has become so famous, it is said to have inspired the idiom, ‘mad as a March hare’.