Once common and widespread, the Brown Hare has declined in the last 50 years. Help us to record where Brown Hares are found in the Scottish Borders by submitting your sightings to this survey.

Identifying Hares

The Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) is a large mammal with long ears and hind legs. The ears are just as long as its head with black tips and its fur is a russet-brown colour. When it runs, you may see dark-coloured fur running along its back to its tail.

Confusion species

Brown Hares can be confused with the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus).

Rabbits are smaller, shorter and lack the black ear-tips. Rabbits also hold their tails upright when running, so you can see the white underside, but Hares hold their tails down, so you will see the dark upper surface. Rabbits are often found in groups and close to cover but Brown Hares are solitary and found in the open.

The Mountain Hare is found in upland areas (above 500m in altitude) where Brown Hares are not. It is slightly smaller than the Brown Hare, has relatively short ears (shorter than its head) and an all-white tail. In Scotland, in mid-winter, the coat of the Mountain Hare turns entirely white.

For more information on ID, check out our factsheet.

Where to see them

Brown Hares are usually found in open countryside like grassland and farmland and, although mainly nocturnal, the species is often also active around dawn and dusk. Instead of digging burrows, they create a shallow depression to rest in, often among , called a “form”. They mainly eat wild grasses and herbs but also take crops and so some land managers regard them as pests and control their numbers. In Scotland, it is legal to shoot Brown Hares during the open season between 1 October and 31 January. Otherwise, shooting is illegal unless a special licence is granted by NatureScot.

Distribution and Status

The Brown Hare was introduced to Britain during Roman times so, strictly speaking, is not a native species. However, most people now consider it a welcome addition to our biodiversity. Once widespread and common, data show that the UK Brown Hare population has undergone a significant decline over the last 50 years. Factors such as agricultural intensification and increased predation from Red Fox may have contributed to this. Data held by TWIC show that the Brown Hare is still widespread in the Scottish Borders, but there are a number of areas where it has not been recorded since before 2000 and so we are keen for records from all Scottish Borders areas.

The Brown Hare is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species and is included on the Scottish Biodiversity List, meaning it is a priority species for conservation action in Scotland.

How can you help?

Please send us your Brown Hare sightings for the Scottish Borders. You can submit sightings to our survey on the iRecord website or app. It is free and straightforward to use and you can even attach a photo.

All records will be verified by the Local Mammal Recorder before being uploaded to the NBN Atlas Scotland and shared with relevant recording schemes.