Cape hare

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Cape hare[1]
Brown Hare444.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae
Genus: Lepus
Species: L. capensis
Binomial name
Lepus capensis
Linnaeus, 1758
Lepus capensis distribution.svg
Geographic range

The Cape hare (Lepus capensis), also called brown hare and desert hare is a hare native to Africa and Arabia extending into India.[2] It is a nocturnal herbivore.


There are twelve subspecies that exist in Africa.[3] These include:


The Cape Hare is a typical hare, with well-developed legs for leaping and running, and large eyes and ears to look out for threats from its environment. There is usually a white ring around the eye. It has a fine, soft coat which varies in colour from light brown to reddish to sandy grey. Unusually among mammals, the female is larger than the male; this phenomenon is called sexual dimorphism.


It may be found in macchia-type vegetation, grassland, bushveld, and semi-desert areas.


A Cape hare caught by an Asiatic cheetah in Miandasht Wildlife Refuge, Iran.

The Cape Hare is a herbivore, typically eating grass and shrubs of various types. Coprophagy, the consumption of an organism's own fecal material to double the amount of time food spends in the digestive tract, is a common behaviour amongst rabbits and hares. This habit allows the animal to extract the maximum nourishment from its diet, and microbes present in the pellets also provide nutrients.

Like other hares, they are fast. The only predator which is capable of outrunning them is the cheetah. All other predators are ambush and/or opportunistic hunters; examples of these are leopards, caracals, and black-backed jackals.

After a 42-day-long pregnancy, the female gives birth to from one to three young, termed leverets, per litter and may have as many as 4 litters per year. A characteristic of hares which differentiates them from rabbits is that the young are born precocial; that is, the young are born with eyes open and are able to move about shortly after birth. The Cape Hare is no exception in this regard.

Conservation status[edit]

Because of its large range, the Cape Hare is evaluated by IUCN as "Least Concern", although the population trend is decreasing.[4]



  1. ^ Hoffman, R.S.; Smith, A.T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 196–197. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Drew, C., O'Donovan, D., Simkins, G., Al Dosary, M., Al Khaldi, A.M., Mohammed, O.B., Al Nuaimi, A.S.M., Al Mutairi, M.S., Al Habhani, H.M., Sami Amr, Z., Qarqas, M. & Abu Baker, M.A. (2008). "Lepus capensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  3. ^ "Cape Hare". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "IUCN Red List for Cape Hare". Retrieved 14 August 2012.