Hares are members of the Lepus family and are incredibly similar in size and shape to rabbits. Hares having much larger ears than rabbits and are also renowned for their incredible speed. They live in a variety of different climates and can survive in a range of different conditions. As a result of this, they can often fall prey to a lot of different animals. While it would appear that their small size would make it tricky for them to defend themselves, they can be surprisingly stong animals, especially when they’re using their legs.
Let’s take a look at five of the most dangerous predators for hares.
5 Predators of Hares
The fox is the hare’s most natural predator. Hare meat has an exceptional taste for foxes and they can be ruthless hunters when it comes to catching it.
Foxes tend to stalk their prey before they eat it and it is very important that they do this with hares. Hares have exceptionally strong back legs and can, therefore, make a quick getaway if they suspect they are under danger.
Though similar to dogs and wolves, foxes tend to hunt alone and at night time and their lack of a pack means it can be difficult to capture their prey. A fox will watch a hare eagerly and then strike when it feels the best opportunity presents itself. Foxes tend to carry their food away, and in some situations, they may even hide it so that they can go back to it at a later time.
2. Golden Eagles
In certain parts of Europe, namely the Alps, the Pennines and parts of Northern Spain, golden eagles will often hunt down and eat hares.
While golden eagles will tend to target smaller animals like mice, they have also been known to swoop down and catch some rabbits and hares from time to time. They have even been known to occasionally attack much bigger animals such as deers as well.
Golden eagles tend to swoop down on their prey and catch them using their sharp talons to kill and carry away their prey. Being in the air also presents them with a great advantage over animals like hares as it levels the playing field in terms of speed and makes it all the more difficult for the hare to escape.
At first glance, a weasel may not appear to be that dangerous, and certainly not to a hare, but weasels can be surprisingly vicious when it comes to hunting, catching and killing their prey. In fact, weasels have been known to stalk and kill animals that are up to five times their size.
Despite their small demeanour, weasels actually have an incredibly strong upper-body and it is that which allows them to attack and kill their prey. Weasels have an incredibly quick metabolism and they need to eat around half of their own body weight each day. This has led to them becoming instinctive predators who will attack and eat anything that crosses their path.
Due to shared habitats, weasels are regular predators of hares. Weasel’s will corner their prey and then wrap their slender body around their prey before killing it with one sharp bite to the back of the neck and spinal cord.
Weasels are also known to kill hares and then store leftovers for later, due to their large appetites. As you would expect, the best defence a hare has against a weasel is its speed, though, weasels are very small and quiet and can often attack a hare before it even realises it is being hunted.
Coyotes are notoriously clever and vicious predators and they are also not too picky when it comes to what they eat. They have a diet that consists of both smaller animals like insects and mice, and also of larger animals like deers. They are also more than happy to hunt and eat hares if they are available.
Coyotes can not match a hare when it comes to speed, but when it comes to cunning, they can easily outsmart their prey. Coyotes tend to hunt for food in packs, but they won’t necessarily kill their targets straight away. They will often operate as a team, with one coyote chasing down an animal until it is worn down, and another one finding it later and attacking it in its weakened state. They will also use similar tactics to lure their prey into a trap, where another coyote will be waiting for them. They tend to kill in a similar way to other predators of hares, by sinking their teeth into the windpipe of the animal and then allowing it to suffocate slowly.
Once they have killed their prey, coyotes tend to drag the carcass back to feed their young with. Hares have few defences against coyotes other than their speed.
The lynx is an animal that is incredibly dependent on catching its prey, so much so that the lynx population tends to fluctuate depending on how much prey is available for them in their area.
Hares are the perfect size for a lynx to consume and they will often catch them by using a stalk and pounce technique. Like a lot of cats, they will often watch their prey for some time before jumping out and killing it. The way that they kill their prey depends on the type of lynx but the majority of them will kill their prey by delivering a single bite wound to the back of the neck, this kills the animal instantly by breaking its spinal cord at the neck.
Hares face a wide variety of different predators from all sorts of different climates. While they may not be known as tough creatures, they do have a range of different ways to defend themselves, with their incredible speed often being one of their most useful assets against a number of different animals.
I hope that this article on hare predators was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!