Scrub Hare

Lepus saxatilis

Scrub Hares inhabit open scrublands, grassland and bushveld with patches of long grass and thickets. They are also commonly found in planted fields. They feed on fresh, green grass – preferring the shoots and rhizomes – but to a lesser extent will also feed on leaves and twigs of shrubs. They are independent of drinking water, gaining enough moisture from their food. Scrub Hares are quite variable in size as adults, those in the southwest of their range being largest and those in the northeast smallest: In length they vary from 40 – 70cm, in weight from 1.5 – 4.5kg. Females are larger than males from the same population.

Scrub Hares are mostly nocturnal, feeding from dusk to dawn, and resting by day in a regularly used patch of long grass or under a bush. They are mostly solitary animals, sometimes congregating in small groups in patches of good grazing or when several males assemble around a female on heat (which often leads to serious fights among them). They can attain speeds of up to 60km/h, but will usually only flee when a predator is almost on top of them, running in a zig-zag motion to cover.

Babies are born year-round, with a peak in spring and summer. Females give birth to between 1 and 3 young after a gestation of 42 days. The young are sexually mature at 6 months of age. All of Africa’s medium to large birds of prey and mammalian predators, as well as pythons, include the Scrub Hare in their diet. They have a short life expectancy of between 5 and 8 years.

The Scrub Hare is found all over South Africa, as well as in Lesotho, Swaziland and the south of Namibia. The IUCN regards it as being of least concern, however it also points out that the population is declining due to habitat loss and hunting.

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11 thoughts on “Scrub Hare

  1. kim blades, writer

    I love these. I had one as a pet when I was a child, my father was given a baby one by a man he worked with who had found it injured along a dirt road near where he lived in Tongaat. We named him ‘Boots’ because he used to stamp on the floor of his wooden hutch when he wanted to come out. Boots and our white rabbit, ‘Bugs’, had a very friendly relationship with one another and our four German Sheperds. They used to spend hours in our fully fenced back garden together. All the dogs used to do is lick the Boots and Bugs faces and lie stretched out in the shade of the avocado trees with them. Lovely times childhood!

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