Nature table: The Irish hare

The Irish hare has traditionally been regarded as a sub-species of the mountain hare, an animal adapted to high altitudes and high latitudes.

In Ireland these hares are different to the ones in other countries.

One of the principal differences is that elsewhere they turn wholly or mainly white at this time of year. In Ireland there is little or no colour difference between the summer and winter coat, which is reddish brown with a white tail and belly.

Archaeological evidence indicates that they are among the longest established of our native mammals.

The only other members of the family found wild in Ireland are the rabbit, which was introduced in medieval times, and the European brown hare which was introduced to the north of the country in the last century and may now be extinct.

The Irish hare has been separated from other mountain hares for a long time and recent genetic studies indicate that it should probably be regarded as a full species rather than a sub-species.


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