Hare (scient. Lepus europaeus) is one of the most widespread mammals throughout Europe, which also exists in large numbers throughout the island of Crete. It's a herbivorous mammal whose length can reach 55 centimeters and whose weight is approximately 2-3 kilos. Its color is hazelnut-grey to grey brown. It has long ears, its hind legs are longer than the front ones and its pads are covered with a thick coat leaving a characteristic trace on the snow.
One of its characteristic features is the high speed it develops (50-60 km an hour when it runs). Its legs are formed to jump, walk and run. It's continuously restless. When it hears a noise, it stands on its hind legs with his long ears raised.
Its nest is located either in holes or in high greens or bushes well camouflaged. When it heads for it, it tries to confuse its persecutors by following an itinerary of opposite direction on the same steps and then with a jump of 3-5 meters it sits in its nest.
The female gives birth three or four times a year, after a pregnancy of 30-45 days. The first time in March 1-2 youngsters, the second time 3-4 youngsters and the third and fourth time 1-2. The last birth usually takes place in August. The youngsters are covered with a thick coat and are able to move immediately. They suck for only a week and for two weeks they stay hidden in the nest, while their mother brings them food. After three weeks they provide for their own food. In the first year they are capable of reproduction.
At day it hides and at night it starts searching for its food. It eats greens, cereals, cabbages, beets, sprouts, tree branches, but also buds. It lives at an altitude up to 1800 meters and its lifespan can reach 7-8 years. It lives on its own, moves around at night, it is a coward animal, but its cunningness and speed allow it to move at ease even at daytime.
In Crete it has many enemies such as the weasel, the dogs, all birds of prey and the man, who hunts it for its delicious meat. It defends itself by running or by staying hidden in the ground and the grass. Unfortunately, in many areas the population has declined because of illegal hunting. The most common method of illegal hunting is using bright lights at night, which immobilizes the rabbits and makes them easy prey.