Hares are magical, elusive creatures, fast and solitary dwellers of our wild places.
Wherever hares have roamed, fantasies and stories abound, especially in Springtime and by the light of the moon.
For the Celts, the hare was forbidden flesh, only killed during Beltane.
The old countryman’s name for the April full moon was the Hare Moon.
Hares were common witches’ ‘familiars’.
Superstitions based on ancient beliefs include – unlucky for sailors, bringer of storms, Hare’s foot charms would protect against miscarriage, hare lip, rheumatism and be helpful for actors’ performance. If a farmer sees a drove of hares in March, he will not have luck that year.
Personally, I feel privileged and lucky when I come across a hare. They appear in my dreams along with barn owls, foxes, bears and magpies.
Hares are protected under the 1976 Wildlife Act, but the same Act also protects hare coursing – i.e. it is illegal to trap or sell hares other than for the specific purpose of coursing.
Hare coursing involves the terrorising of one animal by another, both open and closed coursing involving the live hare as bait. The hares are subjected to extreme stress, injury and often cruel death.
There can be no justification for trapping hares, or any animal, to provide entertainment for a small sadistic minority who enjoy watching pain inflicted on a terrorised animal.
When this barbaric practise is condoned by politicians, exposure to mindless cruelty to people, especially young people, raises the tolerance threshold of those who witness it, making acceptance easier.
I am saddened and disgusted that a ban is not in place here, when it is illegal in Northern Ireland, UK, Wales and Scotland.
Some hare facts-
.Hares have no home – they give birth in the open in a hollow called a ‘form’.
.Leverets are born with fur and their eyes are open.
.Hares can run up to 70 kph.
.Some hares, the Arctic hare and the snow shoe hare change colour with the seasons.
.Hares are solitary and nocturnal
.Hares are excellent swimmers
.Their upper lips are split, concealing long front incisor teeth that never stop growing.
.Hares are herbivores
.Hares have an excellent sense of smell, sight and hearing.
.A male hare is a Jack and a female is Jill
.A hare less than a year old is a leveret.
.The collective name for a group of hares is a drove, or a flick.
.Boxing hares are usually a female hitting a male as a test of his determination and ardour or to show she is not yet ready to mate.
.Gestation is about 42 days and hares can have up to 3 litters a year usually of 1 to 8 leverets at a time.
.Every continent around the globe has a hare population, except for Antartica.
.The Irish Hare ( Lepus Timidus Hibernicus) is widespread throughout the country, found in various habitats, from coastal dunes to mountain tops, to the long term car parks at Cork and Dublin airport.
If you are a lover of hares like me, have a look at some of my hare images – they are on tablemats and coasters, lamps, T towels, prints, greetings cards and ceramics.