Species name: Scrub Hare
Scientific Name: Lepus saxatilis
Weight: Male: Up to 2kg – Female: Up to 2kg
Overall Length: Male: 40 – 65cm – Female: 40 – 65cm
General Habitat: They prefer woodland areas with patches of shrubs and tall grass.
Diet: Herbivorous. They mainly eat grass and small shrubs.
Most people are amazed that Scrub Hares exist in areas with a high density of leopards, owls, and a variety of other predators. It is true that they are small and petite, but don’t underestimate them. Scrub Hares might not be able to fight off their predators, but they are masters at escaping the claws of a predator.
Scrub Hares are extremely vigilant animals and with their long ears, they can pick up on a predator approaching them from a distance away. They are amazingly agile and use their long, powerful legs to run away from any danger. When fleeing danger, they will run at tremendous speeds and in a zig-zag motion, which confuses predators and makes it very difficult for predators to keep up, giving them the ability to escape.
Scrub Hare young are born precocial, meaning they are fully furred, eyes are open, and can already move around moments after being born. They therefore have the ability to escape from predators only minutes after being born. This is very important as the mothers don’t really protect their young from danger. When danger approaches, the mother will dash off, leaving the young to fend for themselves, but she will return to the young once safe to do so. The mothers will allow the young to nurse during the night and will stick around with them until they are about one month old, from then onwards they will be completely independent.
Now that is pretty impressive for a small animal like a Scrub Hare. Lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, and even humans, are completely helpless after being born. I think we can all agree that Scrub Hares are not as vulnerable as we might have thought. Come join us on a Sabi Sabi safari to view these small yet intriguing animals.
My Memorable Sighting
On one of our morning safaris we came across a young male leopard, busy looking for something to hunt. Suddenly he stopped and stared at a nearby bush. We could see that his whole-body behaviour changed. After looking at the bush through binoculars, we saw a Scrub Hare hiding away from the leopard. The leopard slowly stalked the Scrub Hare, trying to get close enough to pounce on it. The Scrub Hare could see wat was happening and before we knew it, the Scrub Hare took off with lightning speed. The leopard wasn’t far behind and was gaining on the Scrub Hare. The Scrub Hare started running in a zig-zag motion, around trees, through bushes, and over logs, which made it very difficult for the leopard to keep up, and finally the Scrub Hare managed to escape the claws of the leopard. It was amazing to see a small animal like the Scrub Hare manage to outrun and outsmart a leopard. Like in this sighting, the smaller things tend to amaze us more than the big things. Everybody spoked more about the Scrub Hare’s agility than about the leopard. What a memorable sighting!