Alternatively known as the
Scottish or Variable Hare. The first name has reference to the fact that
it is indigenous only in Scotland and the neighbouring isles.
The name Variable Hare
denotes its change of hue at the beginning of winter after the manner of
the Stoat. In Cheshire it is known as White Hare. Respecting this winter
whitening of the fur, it has been shown that the senile whitening of human
hair was due to the activity of certain motile cells, which are termed
chromophages or colour-eaters, and that the same process caused the
whitening of the hairs in the Scottish Hare, and of the feathers of the
Ptarmigan—which undergoes a similar change of colour. It is noteworthy
that the black tips of the ears, like the black tip of the tail in the
Stoat, never change colour. The Scottish Hare is smaller than the Brown
Hare, the combined length of head and body being about twenty inches, but
the head is proportionately larger, the ears and tail shorter and the legs
longer. The fur is more woolly and of a duskier tint in summer, the
whiskers shorter and finer, the eyes rounder, and the hair on the
underside of the foot softer. Behind the breast the under parts are white,
and the tail wholly so.
The habits of the Scottish
Hare are very similar to those of the Brown Hare. In general its food is
similar, but instead of making a form it hides in rock crevices and among
stones where it may be sheltered from the sight of birds of prey overhead.
The breeding habits do not appear to differ greatly from those of the
Brown Hare, two or three litters being produced in the year, and the
leverets varying in number up to eight.