Granada Hare (Lepus granatensis)
It is a lagomorph (animal with hare shape and two pairs of incisor teeth continuously growing) bigger than a rabbit (head-body length 44 to 50 cm, height at the cross section 17 to 25 cm), but smaller than its cousin: the European common hare. Its dorsal coat is cinnamon or cream coloured, with reddish tones; the belly and throat are white. Its legs have white front strips. The tail is short, black on the edges and white in the middle. The ears are large (9 to 11 cm, larger than the rabbit's) and end in a very characteristic black tip. The hind legs are larger than the front ones. There is nearly no sexual dimorphism: females are slightly smaller than males.
Where does it live?
It is an endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula, where it is present only in the middle centre and south. It is linked to open media, crops, meadows, steppes or scattered and wooded scrub areas with little underwood coverage. It is also present in arboreal crops such as the olive grove, in meadows, wetlands and dune zones. It usually prefers mixed and mosaic environments.
How does it live?
It is a herbivorous animal feeding on leaves, stems, flowers, seeds and fruits. Its diet preferences and its habits can seasonally vary. It is a solitary animal, although at night and in optimal habitats, groups of many hares can gather to find food. It is mainly active at night and can travel up to 7 km looking for food. It usually uses areas with greater vegetation cover and good visibility to get lodged and rest. Their territories range from 0.1 to 3 km 2.
How does it reproduce?
Hares can mate almost all year long. Both males and females are sexually active every month, so there can be births at any time of the year. There are usually two offspring per birth. The zeal consists of several males racing, one after the other, to fight erect on two legs for the control of the best pasture areas and the females living there. The females are able to be fertilized when they are already pregnant (superfetation), harbouring two embryos in different stages of development at the same time. Unlike rabbits, they do not build underground burrows. Leverets are born in the sunlight and spend their first days of life on the ground, barely camouflaged by their fur and vegetation. They are able to move and they open their eyes when they are born.
Where can we see it in Málaga?
This species is present in the whole province, except in high mountains or very woody zones. It is very abundant in the Antequera region, the Vega del Genil, Campillos and Fuente de Piedra. To a lesser extent, it is present in the cultivated areas of the Serranía de Ronda and Vega del Guadalhorce. On the Great Path (Gran Senda), we can observe it for example on stages 12 to 18.
Do males fight for the females? The courtship systems of deer and ungulates in general usually include confrontations between males "with their horns" for the control and dominance of females groups. The hares literally box together (in groups of two or three males facing each other, standing on two legs and slapping) to own the territory. The winner will be the owner of a good pasture area in which he will let the females present in that area feed, to then reproduce with them. In this case, the fight is not directly for females.
It can be mistaken with the rabbit. These are smaller and have shorter ears which do not end in a black tip. The rabbit’s legs do not have have white strips.
Routes where it can be observed
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 12. Villanueva del Rosario - Archidona
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 13. Archidona - Villanueva de Tapia
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 14. Villanueva de Tapia - Villanueva de Algaidas
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 15. Villanueva de Algaidas - Cuevas Bajas
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 16. Cuevas Bajas - Alameda
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 17. Alameda - Fuente de Piedra
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 18. Fuente de Piedra - Campillos