Rabbit – Oryctolagus cuniculus
Social groups vary from a single pair to up to 30 rabbits using the same warren. Within large groups there is a distinct social hierarchy. Origins of status are not known. The most dominant males, known as bucks, have priority of access to females, known as does. The most dominant does have access to the best nest sites. Bucks and does seldom fight with each other. Competition between does for nest sites can lead to serious injuries and death. In groups with more than one female and more than one male, rabbits are not monogamous. Lower ranking rabbits may be forced to breed in single entrance breeding “stops” away from the main burrows where they and their young are more vulnerable to predators.
Grey brown fur with black upper side to tail and white underside of tail (white underside raised when alarmed). Ears about same length as head. Brown eyes (brown hares have noticeably lighter amber eyes). Smaller than hare without the black tips to the ears that the brown hare has.
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Footprints: Tracks can be seen in mud and sand, but often easiest to identify in snow, as seen in the photo. Rabbit footprints are similar to hare, but smaller in size. Four pads on both fore and hind feet. Hind feet are often an elongated slipper shaped impression. Width 2.5cm, length 3.5cm.
Droppings: Droppings are often found in grassland habitats, field edges and hedgerows. May be found in dense collection of pellets on prominent feature (e.g. anthill). 10mm in diameter. Colour: yellowish brown-green. Smell: Sweet smelling, like a damp digestive biscuit with a hint of mown hay.
Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
Amber eyes, very different to rabbit’s brown eyes. Brown hare is larger than the rabbit and has longer limbs. Ears of hare about twice the length of the head, longer than those of rabbit and have distinctive black tips. Hare has orange/brown fur on flanks, compared to grey/brown fur of rabbit.
Mountain hare (Lepus timidus)
Larger than rabbit with longer limbs. Longer ears than rabbit with black tips.Pale grey body in summer, or white in winter (with black tips of ears still remaining), whereas rabbit has grey/brown fur all year round.