Some facts about hares

  The hare is a family of gnawing quadrupeds. There are about thirty species, widely distributed throughout the grand divisions. The family includes the common hare of Europe and a number of American species popularly known as rabbits. The hare is a comparatively tall animal depending on fleetness of foot to escape from its enemies. It breeds usually in a nest formed in a tuft of grass or under a bush, and lined with its own fur. The nest or form of the hare, as it is called, is not infrequently covered with a blanket of this loose fur under which the young are hid carefully during the mother's absence for food. When pursued until they are wearied some species do take refuge in hollow logs, brush piles, and even in burrows; but, if in burrows, in those of some other animal. The hare has no ability in excavating protective burrows of its own. All members of the family feed exclusively on vegetable food, grass, twigs, clover, lettuce, cabbage, and the bark of many trees, especially poplars and orchard trees. All our American species are hares; but they have been known as rabbits so long that it seems useless to try to correct the mistake. The European hare is a valuable game animal. Though hunted persistently with gun and dog it succeeds in living in copses and hedges even in the thickly populated farming districts of Great Britain. A favorite method of taking the hare is that of hanging snares or loops in hedge gaps through which it is accustomed to pass.

  In North America there are several species. Two yellowish brown species, known as the marsh hare and the water hare, are found in swamps and canebrakes from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf. These hares depend less on their ears and legs than their dry ground relatives, and frequently protect themselves by hiding in the water like a rat. The Arctic hare is found in polar regions. Its fur becomes pure white in winter. The white rabbit or northern hare is found in the northern part of the United States and northward. It is cinnamon brown in summer, becoming white at the surface in the winter time. The jackrabbit or prairie hare is an animal of the western plains. Its fur is yellowish gray in summer; in winter, white at the surface and base, with a yellowish tinge in the middle. It has a comparatively long tail and is the largest hare in North Amer­ica, attaining a length of twenty-three √≠nches. It is native to the great plains of the West, but is extending its range eastward across the Mississipp√≠. It was such a pest in some portions of the West that the early fruit raisers and farmers found it necessary to organize for its destruction. Jack­rabbit hunts were arranged. Men and dogs surrounded an enormous extent of territory and drove the rabbits by a prearranged plan into huge pockets or nets of woven wire. As many as 10,000 or even 20,000 animals have been slaughtered in a single day.

  The gray or wood rabbit, known familiarly as the cotton-tail,—the "Brer Rabbit" of Uncle Remus,—is also a hare, and is abundant throughout the United States. It is pretty well adapted to the life it leads. The farther south it lives and the less snow, the more nearly its winter color is that of dead leaves; the farther to the north and the more snow, the whiter its outer fur becomes. Its long ears enable it to hear the approach of enemies. Its strong crooked hind legs enable it to jump far and fast. Its food is abundant. If it were not for the dog, the prowling lynx, and other enemies, the rabbit's life would be free from care. Its track in newly made snow is interesting. A little examination shows that the front tracks are made by the hind legs, which swing around the others before they strike the surface.