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Epitome of Natural History...

No. IX.


HE natural history of this timid animal is too interesting for us to pass over in general terms; we, therefore, propose to divide it into two parts; introducing such particulars as will be found most entertaining to our readers.

The characters of this genus of the quadruped race are, two cutting teeth in each jaw; a short tail, or none;. five toes before, and four behind.

This genus, as well as the last, contains ten species, beside several subordinate varieties. Hares, including rabbits, &c. may be divided into two classes, those with, and those without tails.

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The hare is a well known animal. Its long ears are tipt with black; its eyes are very large and prominent; its chin is white; it has long white

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whiskers. The hair or fur on its face, back, and sides, is white at the bottom, black in the middle, and tipt with tawny red. Its throat and breast are red; its belly white. Its tail is black above, and white beneath: its feet are covered with hair, even at the bottom. A large hare weighs eight pounds and a half. It is said, that in the Isle of Man some have been known to weigh twelve. Perhaps the hares, in that island, are larger nearly in the same proportion as the native breed of horses are less than others. The length of a common hare, from the nose to the tail, is two feet. It inhabits all parts of Europe, most parts of Asia, Japan, Ceylon, Egypt and Barbary. It is a watchful, timid animal, always lean; and runs swifter up a hill than on even ground: hence, when started, it endeavours to run up hill. It frequently escapes the hounds by various artful doublings. It frequently keeps all day in its seat, and feeds by night. It returns to its form by the same road that it left it: it does not pair. Their rutting season is February or March, when the male pursues the temale by the sagacity of its nose. They breed often in the year; go with young only thirty or thirty-one days; and bring three or four at a time. The male and female are liable to be mistaken the one for the other. The mother suckles her young about twenty days. The fur is of great use in the manufacture

of hats.

Hares feed on vegetables, and are very fond of the bark of young trees, except that of the alder and lime, which, it is said, they never touch. They are great lovers of birch, parsley and pinks. Their flesh was a forbidden food amongst the ancient Britons: the Romans, on the contrary, held it in great esteem..

Inter quadrupedes gloria primal epus,

was the opinion of Martial; and Horace, who was a bon vivant, says that every man of taste must prefer the wing:

Fecundi leporis sapiens sectabitur armos.

Even at present the flesh of the female is preferred to that of the male; and that of those bred on dry hilly ground, to that of those who reside in marshy or wet places.

The hare and the rabbit afford to man the double advantage arising from their number and utility. Hares sleep much, but always with their eyes open. They have neither eye-lids nor eyelashes. Their eyes seem to be bad; but they have an acute sense of hearing, and enormous ears in proportion to the size of their bodies. These long ears they move with great facility, and employ them as a rudder to direct their course, which is so rapid, that they outstrip all other animals. The period of their natural life is said to be about seven years: but, it is said, the males live longer than the females. They pass their days in solitude and silence, frequently in fear and trembling; as a falling leaf is sufficient to alarm them. Their voice is never heard, but when they are seized or wounded. It is a sharp loud cry, and has some resemblance to the human voice. They are easily tamed; but never acquire that degree of attachment which is necessary to make them domestic; they always take the first opportunity of regaining their liberty. They have been trained to beat a drum, to perform gestures in cadence, &c. They want not instinct sufficient for their own preservation, nor sagacity for escaping their enemies. The sportsman has frequent opportunities of observation, and can reCount many instances of their surprising sagacity, though they have not all equal experience and cun

ning. They turn more or less white with age. They are thought to be larger and stronger, in proportion to the coldness of the climate.. A perpetual enmity is carried on against them, not only by men and dogs, but also by cats, foxes, wolves, and birds of prey, such as owls, buzzards, vultures, and eagles; so that it is almost a miracle that any of them escape destruction.

There have been several instances of what may be called monsters in this species, horned hares, having excrescences growing out of their heads, the likest of any thing to the horns of the roebuck. Such instances have occurred in Saxony; and Dr. Pallas adds another found in Astracan.

In Cook's voyages, mention is made of strawcoloured animals like dogs, which run like hares, seen in New Holland.


The varying hare has a soft down upon it, which is grey in summer, with a slight mixture of black and tawny. Its ears are shorter, and its legs are more slender than those of the common hare: its tail is entirely white, even in summer: its feet are most closely and warmly covered with fur. In winter the whole animal changes to a snowy whiteness, except the tips and edges of the ears, which remain black; as do also the soles of the feet, on which, in Siberia, the fur is doubly thick. It is less than the common species. It inhabits the highest Scottish Alps, Norway, Lapland, Russia, Siberia, Kamschatka, the banks of the Wolga, and Hudson's Bay. In Scotland, it keeps on the top of the highest hills, and never descends into the vales, nor mixes with the common hares. It does not run fast, but takes shelter in the clefts of rocks: it is easily tamed; is full of frolic, and

fond of honey, and caraway comfits: it changes its colour in September, and resumes its grey coat in April. In the extreme cold of Greenland only, it is always white. Both this, and the preceding species, are common in Siberia, and on the banks of the Wolga. The one never changes colour; the other, a native of the same place, constantly assumes the whiteness of the snow during the winter. This it does not only in the open air and in a state of liberty; but, as has been proved by experiment, even when tame and preserved in apartments kept warm with stoves, in which it experienced the same changes of colour, as if it had remained on the snowy plain.

They assemble, and are seen in troops of five or six hundred, migrating in spring, and returning in autumn. Compelled by the want of subsistence, they quit in winter the lofty hills, and seek the plains and wooded parts, where vegetables abound. Towards spring, they return to their mountain quarters.

Mr. Muller says he once saw two black hares of a wonderful fine gloss, and of as full a black as jet. Another of the same kind was taken near Casan in winter in 1768. These specimens were much larger than the common kind. In the southern and west. ern parts of Russia, there is a mixed breed of hares, between this and the common species. It sustains during winter only, a partial loss of colour. The sides, and more exposed parts of the ears and legs, in that season, become white: the other parts retain their colours. This variety is unknown beyond the Urallian Chain. It is called by the Russians Jussack. They take them in great numbers in snares, and export their skins to England, and other places, for the manufacture of hats. The Russians and Tartars, like the Britons of old, hold


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