Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Irish Hare

Sorry for the poor picture rendition, but it was the best I could do through the cafeteria window. This is an Irish Hare, (Lepus timidus hibernicus)and he likes this spot well enough to spend all day there.


These are big bunnies. They can grow to 22 inches and weigh up to 8 pounds. A Western Cottontail Rabbit by comparison checks in at 16 inches and 3 pounds while a Northern Racoon ranges from 22 to 36 inches and between 6 and 30 pounds. Their size and bulk presents an odd visual puzzle to someone like me who is used to seeing adult Cottontails running around the barnyard.

Their back legs are very long which produces an odd "butt up" running gait and rendering them very fast. The Irish Hare is the oldest native mammal in Ireland, fossils demonstrate its presence in the region dating to before the last Ice Age. They are loosely related to the Blue Hare of the UK and Scandanavia and the well-known Artic Hare. They do not live in burrows, preferring to create a flat patch in tall grasses called a form.

I first encountered them while having lunch in the Intel cafeteria. They have this odd behavior of standing up on their hind legs and "boxing", which brings to mind a Kangaroo. In fact, they look and awful lot like little Kangaroos. When not fighting, they spend a lot of time running around here on the lawn, taking time for a snack of grass. Very entertaining.


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