Mountain Hares

The Mountain, or Blue Hare, is the UK's only native lagomorph, as both Rabbits and Brown Hares were introduced. The tag of "Blue" Hare comes from the summer coat which often has a blue/grey colour. At this time of year, however, they are pure white, which gives ideal concealment against their main enemy the Golden Eagle. Or it would do, if there were any snow!

This winter, however, they have had to deal with long periods without snow which has the opposite effect - ie. they stick out like sore thumbs on the mountain side. To help counter this, they find natural features which they can tuck into out of sight or they will dig into the hillside so they cannot be seen from above. They are also a lot less active in the day and tend to lie up in their forms and come out to feed at night, when eagles are at roost.

Mountain Hares found in Arctic Scandinavia will stay white all year and the population (known as Irish Hares) will stay brown/blue all year and occupy more lowland habitat. Mountain Hares found in the Cairngorms have to be one of our hardiest mammals, subsisting in the harshest of Britain's habitats on grasses, heather, herbs, shrubs and tree bark. Sadly they seem to be in decline, a situation not helped by some shooting estates which seem to be determined to eradicate this species simply because they might pass on ticks to the Red Grouse. Unbelievable!