Spotting hares at Uppark

Hare among grass and thistles

On an early morning in spring, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a native brown hare. They'll only appear when it's very quiet, to feed in the grassland.

The grounds at Uppark provide a habitat for native brown hares. They've been spotted from time to time on quiet mornings in spring, when they are at their most active.   

Hares like permanent grassland and woodland edges, of which Uppark is abundant.  The hares come out in the morning and at quieter times and head towards the more open areas to feed.

Hare populations have declined by 80% in the last century due to a changing landscape and modern agricultural practices. At Uppark our Senior Gardener, Alison, sympathetically manages our grassland and woodland to encourage and conserve wildlife.  Investing our resources now will hopefully lead to seeing the brown hare in our grounds for years to come.

" We are very proud of our family of hares, which have become a symbol of the property’s commitment to work for a healthier, more beautiful, natural environment"
- Crispin Scott, National Trust Wildlife & Countryside Adviser

Differences between hares and rabbits

Hares are much larger than rabbits, have longer ears and distinctive black markings
Close up of brown hare
Hares are much larger than rabbits, have longer ears and distinctive black markings

Hares may look similar to rabbits but they are a different species.  Rabbits tend to be a uniform colour whereas hares have distinctive black marks on their body and ears.  Rabbits can grow to a length of up to 40cm whereas hares can reach an astonishing 60cm.  Hares can run up to speeds of 45mph which helps them avoid predators such as foxes.

Hares do not rest in burrows like rabbits, instead they scrape away vegetation to create a shallow commonly known as a ‘form’.  Forms are usually made in the shelter of grass or rocks to be protected from the wind.  Forms are also where hares give birth to their young.  

Hare on the North Drive at Uppark
A brown hare at Uppark, National trust
Hare on the North Drive at Uppark

Hares have up to 4 litters a year between the months of February and September.  Young hares are known as ‘leverets’ and are born active with a full fur coat and eyes wide open. After only a few hours the mother ‘doe’ will move away from the leveret and return only to suckle. After around 12 days, a leveret will start to feed on grass and vegetation and will be weaned after approximately 30 days.

When hares begin their courtship routine around springtime, they act lively, unpredictable and you may even see them boxing each other.  This behaviour has led to the phrase ‘as mad as a march hare’.