About the National Hare Survey

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has joined the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) to launch a monitoring portal for hares in Ireland. The Irish hare is the country’s only native lagomorph species and, mirroring the trend in other farmland species, their numbers have declined due to habitat degradation and intensification of farming. The population has not been surveyed since 2007; thus, a national survey, led by QUB, is currently underway. Members of the public are invited to submit any hare sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre via the online record form below. If you have one, please include a photograph so that species identification can be verified. Irish hares can be easily confused with the common rabbit or the rarer, more localised European brown hare which is only found in Mid-Ulster and West Tyrone in Northern Ireland (for guidance notes on species identification please see the link below).

Please submit the details of your sighting here: SUBMIT SIGHTING

If you find a dead hare, for example, a roadkill animal we would appreciate it if you could collect the specimen, place in a plastic bag (double bag if necessary), labelled with the date and location, and contact Queen’s University Belfast (nmcgowan04@qub.ac.uk) to arrange a collection. If possible, please chill or freeze the specimen until collection.

 

Guide to hare identification

There are three species of lagomorph in Ireland. There are two species of hare: the native Irish hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) and the non-native, invasive European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) and one species of rabbit: the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

Irish hare

European hare

European rabbit

Irish hare

European hare

European rabbit

Irish hare –Lepus timidus hibernicus

Native species

Weight: 3.5 – 4.5kg

Length: 50 – 65cm

Ear length: 10 – 11cm (approximately equal to head length) with black tips; White edge during winter

Eye colour: Dark brown/black

Fur colour: Reddish-brown smooth coloured, beige ring around eyes, beige/white underside; Paler in winter

Tail: White with a greyish upper surface

Hind foot length: 14cm

Movement: Undulating, loping, rolling gait – legs much longer than rabbits

 

European hare (Lepus europaeus)

Non-native species

Weight: 3.5 – 5.0 kg

Length: 50 – 76cm

Ear length: 9.5 – 15cm (approximately twice head length) with large black tips; Large black triangular patch on back of each ear

Eye colour: Amber chestnut

Fur colour: Sandy brown mottled appearance with grey and black hairs, brown face and chest, beige/white underside; more grey in winter. Clear whitish eye ring with stripe on the muzzle down to the nose.

Tail: White with black upper surface

Hind foot length: 15cm

Movement: Rapid, direct stride with tail down – legs much longer than rabbit legs

 

Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Non-native species

Weight: 1.0 – 2.5kg; About half the size of a fully grown hare

Length: 34 – 50cm

Ear length: 7 – 9cm (approximately equal to head length)

Eye colour: Dark brown/black

Fur colour: Brownish-grey, beige/white underside

Tail: Black upper surface, white below; held upright so appears white

Hind foot length: 9cm

Movement: Characteristic bunny ‘hop’ when relaxed but frantic energetic dash when disturbed.