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A scrub hare isn’t a bunny! And other interesting scrub hare facts

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

This blog was written by Naledi Letshwiti, currently a Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. The information contained in this blog is based entirely on Naledi’s research.

Because scrub hares are cute and furry, many people mistaken these beautiful bunnies as a normal rabbit but they are not. Scrub hares have greyish upper parts and very long ears. They have long strong back legs and large hind feet with hair in between the pads. Their grizzled grey back with flecks of black on its coat helps the hare to camouflage itself during the day.

Even though these scrub hares and rabbits belong to the same family – Leporidae – they are not the same and differ a lot. Scrub hares are much larger in size than rabbits and their ears and hind legs are longer as well. Scrub hares live alone or in pairs in above- ground nests, whereas rabbits often live together in groups of up to 20 in underground tunnels known as warrens.

Are scrub hares active during the day or night?

A baby scrub hare, also called a leverat, freezes as a form of camouflage.

Scrub hares are nocturnal, although they can be seen on overcast days. They do not live in burrows but live in hollows pressed by their bodies under bushes. These hares enjoy habitats with open grasslands and thickets with patches of grass land in between. They use these long-grass areas to hide during the day and to build a shelter, called a form, used for shelter for their young.

They are very good at hiding from predators during the day and often create a small dent in the ground and lie flat motionless, with their ears tucked back to their shoulders. By doing so, it makes it harder for predators to detect them due to their colouration that blends with scrubland and vegetation.

What do you call a scrub hare baby?

Baby scrub hares are called leverets. These hares 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 minutes after being born. This is important as the young ones don’t get much parental care from their mothers. If danger approaches, the mother will run off leaving the young to care for itself. A mother will care for her babies until they are about a month old, then leave them to fend for themselves.

 A scrub hare’s lifespan is about 8 years, not usually more than that, and can weigh up to 2-3 kilograms with males being slightly smaller than females.

The funny thing about scrub hare poop…

These amazing grazers feed on green vegetation that makes their droppings pale green to yellow, oval shaped pellets measuring at approximately 12 mm in length. However, they actually process their dung twice. After initially defecating, they turn around and eat it, then it comes out again after all nutrients are absorbed. This strange habit is called coprophagia

A close up of scrub hare poop, showing the variant after the scrub hare has already re-digested its faeces.

How fast can a scrub hare run?

Scrub hares are renowned for running in front of cars at night, zigzagging as they run. This zigzagging run is presumed to be a way of avoiding capture. They are incredibly fast with an average speed of 60-70 kilometres per hour. That is very beneficial for them because they might escape from unseen obstacles or challenges such as a predatory attack.

In conclusion every life is very important – be it a plant, animal, insect or human – as they all play a crucial role in the ecosystem. So take care of and respect nature.  

Did you learn something new about scrub hares? From mammals big to small and everything in between, learn about it all on a Bushwise course.

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