Talk Report: 2019-03-13
‘The Hare in Nature, History and Folklore’
We all love hares———- so seldom seen these days in our countryside—— so it was a real pleasure to hear about this gorgeous animal.
Did you know there were three types—— the brown hare, the mountain hare and the Irish hare ?
Fascinating mankind for centuries, this nocturnal, solitary, mythical creature is sadly declining by 80% since the 18th century, sometimes due to the loss of habitat and land usage change.
Brown hares are famous for their energetic behaviour, and during the month of March in particular they are known to ‘box’ with one another. These ‘mad March hares’ do this during the mating season. The male or ‘jack’ seeking out the female or ‘jenny’. She will mate with the hare who can run the fastest.
Gestation of the baby ‘leverets’ is 42—44 days. When born they are fully formed with open eyes and are transferred to their own ‘form’, a shallow depression in long grass, where they are suckled each night, progressing to solid food after four weeks.
Non-territorial, they forage for grass crops, supplementing their diet with seeds, fruits and vegetables.
These wonderful animals survived the last glacial ice age. There is evidence of a hare drawing on a Roman brooch dated 80AD.
St Melangell is the patron saint of hares. They are depicted in pictures, carvings, stained glass and medieval manuscripts.
Henry ||| would eat them—jugged hare, an all-time favourite.
Literature has a place for the hare——Aesop’s Fable ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’. Shakespeare’s Falstaff mentions he is as melancholy as the hare and Lewis Carrol’s Alice-in-Wonderland of course features a hare at the Mad Hatters Tea Party.
Do you remember a hare’s foot carried as a good luck symbol? clearly unacceptable these days.
I’m sure we all learnt many things that morning——and the anecdotes will continue to appeal while this fascinating animal remains part of our natural world.