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Scrub Hare

Nicole Cosgrove

Introduction

The Scrub Hare is not a pet species. them is a wild animal from southern Africa, found primarily in the African country of Namibia. Hares differ from rabbits in several ways. Physically, they have longer legs and ears. These are animals equipped to run. They are also survivors, right from the start. Rabbits have young that are altricial, or partially underdeveloped at birth, and require parental care. Hares do not, and they are on the move from day one. them makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as that trait affects many things about this animal and why they don’t make suitable pets.

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Quick Facts about Scrub Hare

Species Name: Lepus saxatilis
Family: Leporidae
Care Level: n/a
Temperament: Solitary, wary
Color Form: Agouti
Lifespan: Up to seven years in captivity
Size: Up to 10 lbs.
Diet: Greens

Scrub Hare Overview

scrub hare
Image Credit: Michael Potter11, Shutterstock

The Scrub Hare prefers open places over wooded areas. This allows them to observe their surroundings for the best protection against predators. They also stick to warmer regions, which is expected given their home range. Their coloration and behavior are assets to their lifestyle. This animal is only found in Namibia and sometimes in South Africa. They are not known outside of the continent.

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Typical Behavior & Temperament

The Scrub Hare is a solitary animal, except during the short mating season. That is a typical behavior pattern of animals of this family. They are wary creatures and will bolt if threatened. The only contact that a Scrub Hare has with their counterparts is during mating season. However, that time is also brief. Males fight for females, often resulting in injury.

Appearance & Varieties

The Scrub Hare is agouti-colored, which is a mix of white, black, and brown hairs that give them the ideal camouflage in their African habitat. You’d be hard-pressed to spot one if they were sitting still. The belly of the animal is white, with darker coloration that is typical of species in this family. There is some variation in size. They can run anywhere from 4-10 lbs.

The Scrub Hare has a long body that can reach up to 26” L. Their feet are relatively large, giving them the ability to push off the ground and be running quickly. As is typical with this reproductive style, females are larger than males because they raise their young on their own, without the help of their partner.

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Scrub Hare Lifestyle

The Scrub Hare is active at sunset and night, scavenging on greens and grasses. They are a territorial animal, which is somewhat unusual for an herbivore. However, it’s understandable, given their habitat and the pressure to find adequate amounts of food. Their nocturnal lifestyle gives the animal an edge for avoiding predators.

Habitat

The habitat of the Scrub Hare is a challenging one. The climate is warm to hot, with periodic droughts. That can make vegetation scarce, along with cover from predators. This region of the world is arid, with little precipitation, except for the two annual rainy seasons in the summer and fall. The temperatures are hot, sometimes reaching well over 90℉.

scrub hare
Image credit: suju-foto from Pixabay

Do Scrub Hares Get Along With Other Animals?

The Scrub Hare barely gets along with others of their kind, let alone other animals. They fend for themselves and keep to their own feeding areas. The animal is typically silent, without vocalizing. The only time you can hear them is when they are stressed or wounded. Then, they will give an alarm call to warn others in the vicinity.

Their other strategy against predation is to blend in with their surroundings and remain motionless. Their coloration allows them to blend in easily with the muted colors of their environment. Only when a predator gets too close will they spring away from the threat. Their fast speed gives the Scrub Hare an advantage and the ability to survive another day.

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What Scrub Hares Eat

The Scrub Hare is an opportunistic animal out of necessity, given their harsh environment. They will feed on whatever vegetation they can find. They will eat the leaves and bark of scrubland plants. The hare will dig for the nutritious roots of plants if other foods are scarce.

Scrub Hare Health

The Scrub Hare is relatively long-lived for an animal of their size and class. In the wild, they can survive up to 5 years. They are often a host for external parasites, such as lice. The animal has no real value for their meat or fur, so humans don’t usually hunt Scrub Hares. Their main role is their place in the food web of the scrubland.

Breeding

The Scrub Hare breeds seasonally, like many wildlife species. The female will have up to three kits in a litter. The male doesn’t help with the care of the young. Even the female’s investment is minimal, which is why they are born ready to take care of themselves. The Scrub Hare can have multiple litters during the season.

The availability of food is often an indicator of how many young the female will have. Nevertheless, the species’ conservation status is stable, with no immediate threat of extinction.

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Conclusion

The Scrub Hare is an interesting animal that manages to make a living in a challenging environment. They are solitary, perhaps out of necessity, in a habitat that has few resources. However, the animal is a survivor, which is evident from the day they’re born. Their strategy for protecting themselves against predation is another notable trait of this wary yet clever creature.


Featured Image Credit: David Mark from Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.